A shoplifting arrest in Santa Barbara has raised questions about enforcement

Controversial take down explained

Shoplifting suspect caught after a city block chase (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Shoppers in downtown Santa Barbara that witnessed a chase and conflict between two men had many questions Tuesday.

Some thought it was a bloody stabbing in the 900 block that went into a walkway towards the public restrooms.  A red substance was on the ground. 

The incident, in part, was caught with a cell phone camera.   What happened before the conflict was not taped or sent to NewsChannel 3.

Santa Barbara Police say this stemmed from a shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. A store asset protection employee attempted to detain the suspect several times over a city block.  

The conflict shows the suspect swinging his arms while carry plastic bags and walking or running from the store employee.  At one point the suspect ends up on the ground and a red substance believe to be from a broken drink bottle is on the bricks.

Police arrived to make the arrest nearby.  Sgt. Joshua Morton says "many large stores have loss prevention officers that work at different stores on a rotating basis. They will have the ability to use handcuffs and are authorized to  or trained to carry pepper spray in case the person gets physical with them."

Morton says "rarely do we have an issue that results in a   major  physical fight because  they are going to try to step back and let us handle it."

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