Santa Rosa Plaza mall cops are under fire these days for the treatment of grieving family members who were ordered to remove “RIP” T-shirts bearing the image of a 13-year-old son killed by a sheriff’s deputy.
But the dust-up involving family and friends of eighth-grader Andy Lopez, who was shot to death last fall, is not the only trouble facing U.S. Security Associates and mall owners Simon Property Group.
A Healdsburg man is suing both companies for a June 26 incident in which he claims mall security guards roughed him up when he got into a dispute with retailers over the return of a cellphone case.
Michael Golub, 46, said in court papers that he was waiting to speak with a Cellairis supervisor near its kiosk when a private security guard walked up and told him to leave the mall. Apparently, Golub had been sharing his displeasure with the retailer with other customers.
He refused and a second guard was summoned, who along with the first, tried unsuccessfully to arrest and handcuff Golub, he said.
That’s when a third, larger mall cop arrived and Golub said he felt his legs kicked out from under him. He fell to the floor, injuring his hip and back. He said the larger guard dropped to a knee beside him, grabbed the back of his head and slammed it on the ground, causing it to bleed and knocking him temporarily unconscious.
The guard then held a can of pepper spray to Golub’s face and threatened to douse him if he continued to resist being placed in handcuffs. Once cuffed, Golub said the guard rifled his back pockets in search of identification. He was “groped so forcefully that his underpants were forced into his rectum by the pressure,” the lawsuit said.
A crowd of onlookers gathered, including a jewelry store employee who started to record the incident on a cellphone. Golub said the largest guard shouted to the man to stop recording and told him he was confined to his store.
Golub then felt himself being lifted, bodily, from the ground and taken to a service hallway. Santa Rosa police officers arrived and cited him for trespassing. Golub said the guard told officers that Golub “took a swing” at him.
Ever since, Golub said he has been in constant pain and has had difficulty sleeping. He’s also felt humiliation at being at the center of such a spectacle.
Last fall a judge ruled Golub had grounds to seek punitive damages. Among the allegations are assault, battery, kidnapping and failing to adequately train and supervise employees.
A trial is set for mid-August.