Skip to main content

Caught on camera: Customer choked by security guard while trying to make return at Vancouver store


A trip to the store to return an item turned violent for one man in Vancouver last weekend,

A loss prevention officer, who’s typically dressed in plain clothes trying to catch shoplifters red-handed, was instead caught on camera roughhousing a customer at Mountain Equipment Company.

Amir Ghassemzadehnaghedhi and his wife went to the store on Sunday to return a Yeti cooler, which they purchased back in Feb. 2022.

He said he tried to explain to the store manager that the drain plug had not been working.

After buying two new plugs, he thought the product was defective and wanted to return it.

“She's thinking I'm there to do a scam the way she treated me,” Ghassemzadehnaghedhi told CTV News.

“She was not listening at all. She said, ‘Get out of the store. Get out of the store both of you.’ And I said, ‘No, I need someone to listen to me.’”

MEC guarantees the quality of its products and if an item hasn’t met the customer’s expectations, they can bring it back – but there are some restrictions in the return policy.

Ghassemzadehnaghedhi doesn’t think it was necessary to involve the loss prevention officer, who escalated the situation by putting his hands around Ghassemzadehnaghedhi’s neck and putting him in a headlock.

“He pushed his finger here under my jaw, so deep that, still, when I swallow something, I have pain,” he said. “Besides the pain, the humiliation of rolling on the floor.”

His wife, Andrea Sotomayor, watched in fear. She started recording the incident on her cell phone.

“I was really scared. I thought the guy was going to kill Amir,” she said in tears. “Amir was asking for the police. The manager was not doing anything -- the manager was enjoying it.”

The couple alleges that the manager was dismissive and did not treat them with respect when they approached her.

“The thing that hurts me more than any other thing is: are they judging me because of my appearance? Are they judging me because of my accent?” Ghassemzadehnaghedhi asked.

MEC’s CEO, in a statement, defended the staff’s actions.

“After a thorough review of the whole incident, we have determined that our store manager and her team acted appropriately and professionally in this situation,” wrote Eric Claus in an email.

Claus went on to say the loss prevention officer won’t be allowed to work at any of its stores going forward, adding it is reviewing the policies of the third-party security company.

“The actions of the third-party loss prevention officer were unacceptable. We apologize for these actions, and MEC does not condone his behaviour,” he wrote.

The Vancouver Police Department is also investigating the incident, a spokesperson confirmed.

Ghassemzadehnaghedhi plans to take further legal action by suing MEC, a store he says he has no plans of ever returning to even though he has patronized it for eight years.

“I don't think we have been treated as normal citizens,” he said.

“I have done my best to be a normal citizen, to be like good person. And a manager just decides I'm not because I want to return a product.” Top Stories

Stay Connected