A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted a subsidiary of a global security company and one of its special police officers after prosecutors alleged the guard grabbed, choked, threw, and punched an 11-year-old girl who shoplifted from a Boston clothing store in June.
Mohammad Khan, 36, of Cambridge, and his employer, New Jersey-based Securitas Security Services USA Inc., were both indicted Tuesday, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office said in a statement Wednesday.
Officials said Khan used “excessive and unreasonable force” to detain the young shoplifter, who admitted to authorities that she took several clothing items totaling an estimated value of $175 from the Primark store in Downtown Crossing, on June 9.
Khan, a special police officer, grabbed the girl (who was not identified), pulled her into the store, and shoved her into a corner, blocking the view of a closed-circuit security video camera, according to the district attorney’s office.
“Over the course of more than seven minutes, Khan, who is 6’ 1’’ and 225 pounds, grabbed the girl by the head and neck and threw her to the ground, punched her in the face while straddling her as she was on the ground, and even after being separated from her by Boston Police, re-engaged in struggling with her,” officials said in the statement.
Through an investigation, authorities determined Khan had previously been reprimanded at least four times for “using more force than permitted by Securitas and for violating protocol,” prosecutors said.
Khan had “explicit orders” not to touch any customer, whether one was suspected of shoplifting or not, according to Rollins’s office. During the incident, his fellow Securitas co-workers and passersby urged him to stop what he was doing, officials said.
“The Boston Police were exemplary in de-escalating the situation when they arrived, and the other Securitas employees in the store behaved appropriately during the encounter,’’ District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. “Being a special police officer allows someone the power of arrest, but with that power comes great responsibility. I applaud the vast majority of Boston Police officers and SPOs who behave professionally and with restraint.’’
The girl was ultimately not charged with shoplifting. Under state law, authorities were prevented from doing so because of her age, officials said.
Both Securitas and Khan have been charged with one count of assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and one count of civil rights violations (unreasonable force), according to a spokesperson for Rollins’s office.
Securitas Security Services USA Inc. is a subsidiary of Swedish-based Securitas AB, which has 370,000 employees worldwide and operates “one of the largest security firms in the nation,” prosecutors said.
“Under state law, to prove corporate liability the Commonwealth must show that an individual committed a criminal offense, that the individual who committed the offense was involved in a corporate business, and that the individual was vested with authority to act for the corporation with respect to that business,” officials said. “District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ Office believes those thresholds have been met and exceeded in this instance.”
Securitas did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
An arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 17 in Suffolk Superior Court.