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Video shows Black Friday chaos at local Walmart

Nathan Baker • Nov 30, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Black Friday hysteria affected some shoppers a little more forcefully than others this year when the rush of deal hunting turned ugly.

This video posted by Justin Cooper to Instagram and Twitter has gone viral. It shows Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies amid chaos in the Walmart on Browns Mill Road during the Black Friday shopping frenzy. The video has made it to numerous national news sites, including the Huffington Post.

Scroll down to see video.

At the Walmart store on Browns Mill Road in Johnson City Thursday night, Washington County Sheriff’s Office personnel said two women were knocked to the ground and stepped on in the rush for doorbuster deals.

WCSO Capt. Larry Denny (the officer seen in the video) said two women were knocked to the ground and stepped on around a display of tablet computers, on sale for $49.

“They overran that display, and didn’t have any regard for people,” he said of the incident. “There was no sense for it.”

“There were two women who were knocked down at the display, and people were actually walking on them,” Denny said. “We had to remove people off them, so we could get them up. They just kept right on walking on them.”

Cooper witnessed the chaos and posted the video his friend took on his cellphone to his personal social media accounts.

“I was browsing around in the DVD section when my friend said I needed to check this madhouse out,” Cooper said. “The next thing I know, they swipe the pallet with the tablets open, and all you see is a person go down. I heard a woman screaming, and that’s when I got my phone out and tried to start recording.”

But the jostling from the throng knocked Cooper’s phone out of his hands and ruined his chance of capturing the melee.

When it was over, his friend sent the video he’d captured to Cooper, who posted it online.

Denny said five officers were already stationed around the tablet display, and three more were called from other parts of the store to help deal with the frantic crowd.

“When we were trying to get them up, people were piling on top of us, too,” he said. “We had to physically back people up to get them off these women and our officers.”

Denny said there were no serious injuries from the incident, and no arrests, because it was difficult to identify the unruly members of the crowd.

After the incident, the officers handed out the tablets to customers to avoid further complications.

Cooper commended the officers for a job well done, and wondered what could have happened if they hadn’t been there for crowd control.

“They were very assertive and did what they had to do,” he said. “People weren’t happy about it, but someone could have been trampled to death if they hadn’t been there to keep things under control.”

Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee said the Johnson City incident was unfortunate, but said overall, shopping on Thursday and Friday was safe.

“With 22 millions of customers shopping our stores, we expect some incidents, but thankfully they were isolated and resolved quickly,” she said in reply to an email seeking comments. “Overall the number of incidents is significantly down from last year. Our safety plans worked, and we’ve heard great feedback from our customers and associates.”

She said isolated incidents at only a few of the company’s more than 4,000 stores were not representative of the extended shopping weekend.

Walmart employs site-specific crowd management techniques developed by industry experts and tailored for a retail setting, she said.

Still, reports of incidents and injuries fueled by fervor for potential savings were reported by news outlets across the nation.

In Tazewell, Va., two men were arrested after a stabbing in a Walmart parking lot that was reportedly over a parking space.

A video shot in another store in Elkin, N.C., shows one man getting violent as he attempts to reach discounted televisions.

For Capt. Denny, who has been providing extra security on Black Friday since the early 90s, the trampling was a first.

“It was absolutely irresponsible the way these people acted,” he said. “I’ve seen people knock a display over, but I’ve never seen anything like that where people were knocked down and walked on. They had a total disregard for the people that were down there.”

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