A wheelchair-bound man was physically attacked in a California Target store after he confronted a couple who parked in a disabled space. The couple took their disrespect of the disabled to an all-time low — and it was all caught on video.
Philip Kinstler has been wheelchair-bound for most of his life, but nothing in the 52-year-old’s roughly 30 years in a wheelchair left him as frightened as one encounter with a stranger at a California Target store. Since he ended up with a broken wrist after getting thrown to the floor from his wheelchair, it seems he had every reason to be scared — but that’s far from what upset him the most.
While visiting a Target in Pleasant Hill to return a shirt, Kinstler noticed a vehicle parked in a disabled space. The vehicle didn’t have a placard, so Kinstler decided to say something, CBS reported. After lightly tapping on the window to get the occupant’s attention, Kinstler told a woman inside the car that she was in a disabled space and that he didn’t see any placards allowing her to lawfully occupy the spot.
Kinstler thought that was the end of it, but not long after confronting the woman, her husband approached Kinstler inside the store while he was at the customer service counter. Surveillance video captured the man as he stood in front of Kinstler and demanded he go back outside and apologize to his wife for the earlier confrontation he had with her in the parking lot.
When Kinstler didn’t make his way outside by his one volition, the man grabbed ahold of Kinstler’s wheelchair and began wheeling him towards the door. As Kinstler tried to resist, grabbing onto a sign to keep the man from physically removing him from the store, the suspect aggressively hurled him from his wheelchair, dumping him onto the floor before heading off and leaving him helplessly on the ground.
“I was scared. I’ve never been that scared in my entire life,” Philip Kinstler admitted, adding that he “held onto the wheels for dear life” because he believed the husband and wife were both going to “work on me” if the man managed to get him outside the store. Making matters worse, Kinstler said no one tried to help him.
“The thing that hurt me the most is that people just stood around and did nothing,” Kinstler said. “It would have been easy just to stand in front of my wheelchair,” he added, explaining how anyone could have stopped the suspect from assaulting him the way he did. But, instead, witnesses just watched.
Kinstler suffered a broken wrist when he tried to brace his fall with his left arm. Although that seems like a minor injury, it’s not for someone who depends on both arms to maintain their independent lifestyle while not having the use of their legs. After all, it’s Kinstler’s arms that provide him with mobility, allowing him to move his wheelchair from one place to another.
“I was just thinking, this guy knew exactly what to do to destroy me because without my wrist, no family, maybe nursing home, and no guitar,” a distraught Kinstler explained.
Detectives received a partial license plate number for the couple’s vehicle, identified it and the suspect, and presented the case to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Charges of attempted kidnapping and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury were filed and an arrest warrant was issued.
Two days later, 32-year-old Jimmie Tiger was arrested in San Ramon by San Ramon police officers and taken to the Martinez Detention Facility on charges of assault and kidnapping. “Tiger appears to be a repeat offender, having been arrested for a $37,000 jewelry heist from an Oregon Costco in 2015. He pleaded not guilty to the theft and conspiracy charges in relation to that incident,” Daily Mail reported.
“Mr. Tiger attempted to forcibly wheel the victim out of the store against his will, and when the victim resisted, Mr. Tiger violently lifted the victim’s wheelchair from the side, throwing the victim down onto the floor,” the Pleasant Hills Police Department said in a statement, according to Metro, describing the disgusting assault.
A dispute over a parking spot should never end violently with someone being thrown to the floor. A verbal confrontation shouldn’t fuel a violent assault, ever. But, that especially shouldn’t happen when the assailant is able-bodied and the person being hurled to the ground is disabled. And, no one should stand around and just watch it happen.