SUFFOLK COUNTY, Mass. — A 225-pound security guard at a Boston fashion store has been indicted on charges of assault and civil rights violations after allegedly punching an 11-year-old girl who was shoplifting, authorities said.
A Suffolk County grand jury in Massachusetts on Tuesday handed down the charges against Mohammad Khan, 36, of Cambridge, and his employer, Securitas Security Services USA.
They are accused of “assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count each of civil rights violations” relating to the June 9 incident that occurred in a downtown store, according to a statement from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. The statement alleges the officer also choked the child.
Prosecutors allege Khan used “excessive and unreasonable force” to detain the girl, who admitted to stealing several articles of clothing from Primark at Downtown Crossing. Boston police estimate the stolen goods were valued at $175.
Khan grabbed the child, pulled her back into the store and pushed her into a corner obstructing the view of the security camera, prosecutors say.
The prosecutor’s statement says, “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, reengaged in struggling with her.”
Khan had been reprimanded at least four times before this incident “for using more force than permitted” and for violating protocol outlined by his employer, according to prosecutors. While still designated as a special police officer with arrest powers, prosecutors said, Khan was under explicit orders not to touch any customers, including suspected shoplifters.
A police report of the altercation noted how the girl was “extremely combative and violently resisted” — including kicking and biting — when officers attempted to detain her. One officer observed “a crowd of roughly 100 people inside the store yelling at the private security officer for assaulting the young female.”
The security guard told police the girl punched him in the face multiple times and kicked him when he told her he had seen her shoplift.
Securitas Security Services USA, a subsidiary of the global Securitas AB, operates in areas of private security, monitoring, consulting and investigations for businesses and governmental agencies. It employs 120,000 in North America, making it one of the largest security firms in the country, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors stated that Securitas had “met and exceeded” the thresholds of liability and responsibility by granting Khan authority to act on behalf of the business, leading to the corporation facing identical charges.
Securitas declined to comment on Thursday. CNN has reached out to Khan, the girl’s mother and Primark but received no immediate response.
The girl’s mother, who spoke with CNN affiliate WCVB, said her daughter stole a pair of socks and was walking out of the store when she was thrown against a wall by a man who was not wearing a security uniform. “She thought he was just a random man grabbing her.”
She told the station her daughter is in counseling after the incident. WCVB reported that she is too young under state law to be charged with shoplifting.
Khan and Securitas are scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 17 in Suffolk Superior Court.