WPBF News reports that a former Target employee took his life after being forced to take part in a “walk of shame” after being wrongfully accused of theft. The cashier had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He jumped to his death from the nine-story Courtyard Marriott hotel in Monrovia three days after the incident on July 18.
The mother of a cashier at a Target store in California is now suing the retail chain, stating that her son committed suicide after being humiliated by management.
Graham Gentles was a cashier at the Pasadena Target until July 15, when he was met by store security and the police when arriving for his shift. Officers accosted 22-year-old Graham Gentles, who had Asperger’s syndrome, emptied his pockets, handcuffed him and then led him in front of registers and past guest services to an office within the store as part of a “walk of shame.”
According to the lawsuit procured by KTLA TV,”Gentles was shocked, confused and mortified at being handcuffed and walked through the Target store in front of coworkers and store customers,” the lawsuit states.
“Mr. Gentles has no idea why he was being arrested.”
Virginia Gentles said her son was a “very caring” person who was wrecked by the experience. He was a hard worker who had never stolen from the store, she said.
“His life had been destroyed, right at that moment,” Virginia Gentles said.
“He lost his family and friends. Those were all his friends for two years … people he socialized every day with … He just couldn’t process what had happened.”
WTLA reported that the “imprisonment” Gentles endured was part of Target “walk of shame” policy intended to purposefully humiliate employees suspected of stealing, attorney Patrick Nicholas said.
The impact of this act was especially significant due to Gentles diagnosis of Aspergers. People with Aspergers or autism have a tendency to obsess and ruminate over things. Gentle was unable to process what happened to him.
Target has rebuffed the claim stating the the “walk of shame” is not “a Target policy or practice … There is no such policy. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of this individual,” the statement read.
Since then, countless statements to the contrary have poured in over social media, including on the Facebook page set up in Graham Gentles’ memory.
In reference to the accusation of theft, the police did not have a warrant for his arrest and Graham Gentles was never charged. Virginia Gentles was never told why her son was detained.
The lawsuit alleges wrongful death, negligence, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In addition to Target Corp., it names two store employees who were allegedly involved in Gentles’ “walk of shame.”