ELKTON, Md. — A Salvation Army bell ringer---it’s a sign of the giving season outside the Elkton Walmart on Pulaski Highway, but inside the store, police say 20-year-old Jahlen Thomas Johnson was on the take when he attempted to leave with merchandise without paying for it.
That's when an officer stepped in to take him down.
"He was able to get one cuff on his left wrist however the suspect began to actively resist and a struggle ensued," said Capt. Joseph Zurolo of the Elkton Police Department.
Zurolo says innocent bystanders attempted to come to the officer's aid as Johnson resisted arrest.
"At some point during the struggle, the suspect slammed the officer against a doorway striking his head,” said Zurolo. “The struggle went on for several minutes. At some point, they both ended up on the ground, both the officer and the suspect. It was at this time Officer Devine was able to deploy his taser, get compliance, get control of the suspect and essentially take him into custody."
Ironically, a different officer had arrested Johnson three weeks earlier outside the same Walmart after he allegedly attacked a woman inside the store who police say he had held against her will for months.
Ultimately, prosecutors could not pursue charges of assault and kidnapping, but this time, there's little chance that the key witness won't cooperate, since the officer suffered a concussion, a wrist injury and several abrasions to his hands, elbows and knees after the shoplifting suspect decided to raise the stakes.
"It was a $35 printer,” said Zurolo. “It was a petty theft, and he turned it into a violent encounter where now he's faced with resisting arrest, assault charges, the theft charges, disorderly conduct. It was something that almost, if he was compliant, it could have been done with a citation."