A supermarket chain will not be prosecuted in the death of a man who was pinned down by six workers after being accused of stealing a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The decision not to prosecute Albertsons on a charge of manslaughter comes six days after the chain agreed to settle a lawsuit by paying the victim's two teenage sons $2.35 million.The state attorney's office said the family agreed to the dismissal of the criminal case.
William Alexander's death from asphyxiation in August 1995 enraged civil rights groups and sparked protests outside the store.
Alexander, 33, who was black, was living at a nearby drug treatment center when he was suspected of pocketing store items.
When confronted, the 6-foot 280-pound Alexander struggled with workers and yelled that he could not breathe, according to witnesses. He had a history of asthma and a heart murmur.
Lawyers for the store claimed Alexanders substance abuse and combative demeanor may have contributed to his death.
A grand jury cleared the workers but indicted the Idaho-based chain for manslaughter. Legal researchers said it was the first time a company, but no individuals, was charged in a U.S. criminal case.