Man files suit against Best Buy for brutality

Max Rust

A New York City man, who claims his stepson was strangled to death by Best Buy security guards in South Carolina four years ago, filed a lawsuit Monday in Hennepin County District Court against the company — alleging he, too, was choked by Best Buy employees.
Errol Maitland joined several protesters Monday at a press conference in front of City Hall about police brutality and alleged police misconduct in south Minneapolis last Friday.
Maitland has been staunchly campaigning against police brutality since the summer of 1995 when his stepson, 25-year-old Douglas Fischer, died outside a Best Buy store in Spartanburg, S.C.
According to media reports, Fischer attempted to buy $4,000 worth of computer machinery with a phony credit card and was then chased out of the store by two security guards. The guards caught him and the two parties scuffled. Reports say that Fischer collapsed and later died.
An initial autopsy indicated that Fischer died from a heart defect. A second autopsy, however, linked his death to strangulation. The Spartanburg authorities found no wrongdoing by the guards.
A wrongful death lawsuit brought against Best Buy was later settled.
Maitland has since protested Best Buy stores nationwide. He targets the company’s headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn., once a year.
He claims Best Buy employees attacked him Aug. 20 when he gathered with other protesters outside the headquarters.
According to a statement prepared by his lawyer, “Mr. Maitland was attacked by a Best Buy employee, who grabbed him around the neck, threw him down and banged him on the stairs.”
“We vehemently deny all of these allegations, and the truth will come out in court,” said Laurie Bauer, a spokeswoman for Best Buy.
Instead, she said the protesters injured the workers of the electronics company, scaring several others in the building.
“Based on whatever our employees experienced and what happened here at our corporate headquarters, we will not be settling this,” she said.
But Maitland vows he will keep fighting Best Buy and police brutality in general.
“We are still in a state where we believe that you have to do something in order for the police to beat you up,” Maitland said. “But all you have to do is be black, or be an activist, and then you become a target.”

Max Rust covers the local community and welcomes comments a [email protected]