Police open probe into 'assault' of shoplifting suspect — video spreads on social media

In the video, the female shoplifting suspect can be heard saying "I can't breathe."

The incident took place at a K-Market in the Vallikallio neighbourhood on Saturday. Image: Johanna Manu / Yle

Police in Western Uusimaa have opened a preliminary investigation into an altercation between a grocery store security guard and a suspected shoplifter in Espoo over the weekend.

The incident, which took place at a K-Market in the Vallikallio neighbourhood on Saturday, was caught on video and widely shared on social media.

The video appears to show a male security guard forcibly restraining a woman he suspected had pilfered items from the store, forcing her to the grocery store floor with his knees.

The guard — who appeared to be trying to get the woman to reveal the items he thought were hidden beneath her skirt — is suspected of assault, according to police.

Newspaper Iltalehti was the first media outlet to report about the video being shared on social media, saying that the guard thought the woman had stolen beer.

Under the weight of the guard's knee and hands, the woman pleaded to be released from his grip.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, police said they had opened two preliminary investigations: one of assault and another of assault and attempted shoplifting.

"I can't breathe"

"I can't breathe," she is heard saying in the clip, throughout which her family members can also be heard asking for the guard to stop.

The woman can also be heard saying the guard had "broken her teeth."

Off camera, the voice of a small child could also be heard crying.

"We will find out what was behind the situation by also examining surveillance camera video material," said the police's investigating director, Jari Saarelainen, adding that the decision was made to publicly announce the opening of the investigation due to the spread of the video footage.

According to newspaper Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), the security guard was hired by the grocery store via a private security firm. The guard's actions have since been reported to his employer, who promised to investigate the incident.

The shopkeeper told the paper he thought the guard's actions were unacceptable. The paper also reported that store staff members have received threats from members of the public reacting to the shared video.