Valdosta Daily Times

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January 9, 2013

Off-duty cop faces months of recovery

Injured in Walmart case

VALDOSTA — An off-duty officer injured during a weekend shoplifting arrest suffered multiple fractures to an ankle and will be on crutches for an estimated four months.

Alvin May was off-duty Saturday afternoon when he offered to help an Inner Perimeter Road Walmart security employee with a shoplifting arrest, Valdosta Police Cmdr. Brian Childress said Tuesday.

“Lots of folks would have just walked on,” Childress said of the off-duty officer helping the Walmart security person, “but Alvin May in our book is a hero. He is an example of what law-enforcement is about and should be about.”

May had finished shopping with his wife and their young child. He saw the Walmart employee confronting a man accused of shoplifting a video-game item. May offered to help the Walmart employee. The off-duty police officer talked the suspect back into the store’s security area near the right-side Walmart entrance, Childress said.

As reported in

Sunday’s edition of The Times, a uniformed Valdosta police officer arrived. Police and store security discovered video-game equipment and a kitchen knife on the suspect. Police attempted to handcuff the suspect, who resisted. His struggle with the uniformed officer and May burst through the security room door into the Walmart entranceway.

The officers wrestled on the floor with the suspect as Walmart security personnel asked customers to clear the area. His shirt coming off, the suspect began tearing free of the officers. The police officer pepper-sprayed the suspect who continued to rise, his pants falling around his ankles.

Breaking free from the officers, the suspect stomped May’s ankle. May felt something pop in his leg. The suspect tried fleeing with his pants down. The uniformed officer grabbed him. Their struggle continued into the parking lot as a second uniformed officer helped subdue and handcuff the suspect.

The suspect struggled again as officers tried placing him in the back of a patrol car. Three uniformed officers were needed to place the suspect in the car.

On the way to the Lowndes County Jail, the suspect kicked out the patrol car window and escaped the vehicle. With help from a Lowndes County sheriff’s deputy, authorities soon had the suspect back in custody by using a taser.

Spencer Lamar Lonon, 18, is charged with theft by shoplifting, aggravated battery, multiple counts of felony obstruction of a police officer, simple battery, and criminal damage to government property, Childress said.

Meanwhile, May was on the floor between the two outer entrance doors of the Walmart. His leg hurt and he felt the stinging after effects of the pepper spray.

His wife and child were inside the Walmart. Waiting for the arrival of an ambulance, May asked a friend to let his wife and child know he was going to be all right. At this time, the entranceway had been blocked off but was still filled with pepper spray.

Childress said Tuesday that May suffered multiple fractures and the injury may require surgery. He is using crutches and may be on them for an estimated four months. May also faces long-term effects of arthritis from the injury.

“It will be a while before he can return to full duty,” the police commander said.

May has been with the VPD since September 2002 and is currently assigned to the department’s traffic unit, as well as the H.E.A.T. unit. May is certified in DUI detection and certified as a drug-recognition expert.

Childress emphasized that May was not officially on duty Saturday when he offered his help. He may have gone to Walmart as a husband and father shopping but he left the store as a police officer who did his job.

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