The family of a man who was shot to death at a Lauderdale Lakes Walmart earlier this year announced on Monday that they are suing the retail giant for failing to provide adequate security for both customers and employees.
Thierry Bastien, 41, was gunned down May 2 inside the Walmart in the 3000 block of State Road 7. The gunman, Tironie Sterling, 22, had barged into the store intent on confronting his girlfriend, who he thought had been cheating on him. Both Sterling and the girlfriend were Walmart employees, according to police reports. She was on duty, and he was not.
As their confrontation grew violent, Bastien and his girlfriend, Makia Ford, sought help from other Walmart employees, said attorney Michael Haggard, who is representing Bastien’s family. “No one came to help,” he said. “He tried to peacefully intervene.”
According to a police report, Bastien struggled with Sterling, who shot Bastien six times, killing him.
Family members said Monday they were angry with Walmart for failing to help an employee under attack even after other customers begged for intervention.
“It wasn’t even until after the shooting that anyone called police,” Haggard said.
The incident was captured on surveillance video, but that video has not been released to the public. Haggard said it shows Bastien stepping in after others would not.
“Make no mistake,” Haggard said. “Thierry Bastien died a hero.”
Makia Ford, mother of Bastien’s son Thierry Bastien Jr., said she especially wanted to bring attention to security issues in advance of the holiday shopping season, which kicks off in earnest on Friday. Ford and the baby, who was 4 months old at the time, were with Bastien when the fight between Sterling and his girlfriend broke out.
“We stopped to ask others to call security, to help,” she said. “Nobody else intervened.”
Haggard and Ford credited Bastien with saving the young woman’s life. The woman’s account to police was similar, according to police reports. She said Bastien’s fight with Sterling bought her the time she needed to escape.
According to Sterling’s arrest report, he did not intend to use his gun when he entered the Walmart and approached his girlfriend. Sterling is charged with one count of first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted. His next scheduled court date is in January.
“We’re heartbroken over the incident that happened at the Lauderdale Lakes store in May and offer our heartfelt condolences to the family during this difficult time,” said Walmart spokeswoman Kelly Hellbusch. “We’re just learning of this and are not commenting on potential litigation.”
Rafael Olmeda can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4457.