Police arrested a 43-year-old woman suspected of interfering with an arrest, allowing a retail theft suspect to escape officers Saturday night at a Macy's store in San Jose's Oakridge Mall.
Abeer Hamed, of Morgan Hill, allegedly interfered as a police officer was trying to help store employees handcuff a suspect -- one of about 15 that mobbed the store shortly after 6 p.m.
Police had responded to reports of retail theft at the mall and when they arrived, two loss prevention officers were trying to detain a suspect. Part of the group had already assaulted one of the store officers, pulling her hair and knocking her to the ground -- prompting police to classify the crime as strong-arm robbery instead of theft.
Hamed, apparently uninvolved in the robbery, approached a police officer and store employee who were trying to detain a suspect, police said.
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She was told to stay back but allegedly refused, and as a police officer attempted to arrest her, Hamed allegedly resisted by swinging an arm at the officer, police said.
While Hamed was being arrested, the robbery suspect fled and hasn't been located.
More than $1,000 in stolen items were recovered and the store employee who was injured was treated for minor to moderate injuries by paramedics.
Hamed was booked into Santa Clara County Jail for resisting arrest by delaying an officer in the scope of his duties, assault on a police officer, and assisting the escape of a person in lawful custody of an officer.
Some witnesses told NBC Bay Area Saturday night that they were in disbelief and said police went too far during the incident. The witnesses believed officers were being rough with a teen that was detained.
A cellphone video obtained by NBC Bay Area Saturday night appeared to show an officer asking Hamed to back away outside Oakridge Mall, and then an altercation ensued.
“The officer decides to get excessively close to my mom, and essentially grabs her arm; she had to fling his arm off, and he got more upset when she was saying what he was doing was wrong. And that’s when he decided to grab her and slam her to the floor,” said Anna Hamed, the daughter of Abeer Hamed.
Marcella Ruiz, who recorded the video, also spoke about the incident.
"At one point, I thought he was going to attack me as soon as he started coming in that direction. I backed up because I was afraid," she said.
Anna Hamed thinks police went too far with the arrest of her mother Saturday, and added that she will be filing a complaint and hiring an attorney.
“It really breaks my heart because you think officers are supposed to like to protect and always strive to do what's best for the civilians of their community. But today, it really showed that’s not always the case,” she said.
Anyone with information on the group of persons involved in the theft and assault of the Macy's employee is asked to contact police. Crime tips can be submitted anonymously by using the P3TIPS mobile app, calling the tip line at (408) 947-STOP, or on svcrimestoppers.org.
Bay City News contributed to the report.