By Anna Gustafson
The family of a Jamaica man, Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death at a Wal-Mart on Black Friday sued the chain store Wednesday.
Attorney Jordan Hecht of the Manhattan-based Hecht, Kleeger, Pintel, and Damashek law firm filed the wrongful-death suit in Bronx Supreme Court on behalf of Bronx resident Elsie Damour Phillipe, Jdimytai Damour’s sister.
Neither Hecht nor Phillipe was immediately available for comment Thursday.
Along with Wal-Mart, Green Acres Mall, Vornado Realty Trust and Securitas Security Services USA are all named in the suit. None of the defendants returned phone calls for comment.
Damour’s father, Fresh Meadows resident Ogera Charles, said he was tired and filled with more sadness than he ever thought would be possible to bear in a lifetime.
As a nation turns its focus to the security issues surrounding the events of Friday, when a crowd of more than 2,000 people stampeded into the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream at 5 a.m., knocking over Damour and proceeding to step on him, Charles just wants his son back.
“There is nothing left to say,” said Charles, 67, who was exhausted after receiving a countless number of phone calls about his son in the past few days “All the words I have cannot bring him back. Nothing can bring him back.”
The what-ifs are hard, Charles said. What if the economy had not been so bad and Damour had not lost his previous job? What if he had not needed to take the job at Wal-Mart to pay his bills?
But, like thousands of Americans across the country, Damour, 34, did recently lose his job as a customer service representative and took a seasonal position at Wal-Mart, where his father said he was hoping to make enough to pay his bills and possibly put a little aside to pay for school.
“He wanted to become a teacher,” Charles said of his son, a Freeport High School graduate who was an avid reader and prolific poetry writer. “He really wanted that. He was a good boy, only 34 years old.”
Damour was raised primarily in Rosedale and Queens Village.
The crowd waiting outside Wal-Mart Friday morning had swelled to 2,000 by the time the store opened for its Black Friday sales at 5 a.m., and as customers knocked Damour to the ground, other employees were also stepped on by shoppers as they attempted to help their friend as he gasped for air, according to police..
Four shoppers were injured, including a woman who was eight months pregnant.
Damour was taken to Franklin Hospital and pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., according to police.
“It’s sad, people looking for bargains,” said Charles, a Haitian immigrant. “For what? $50? $60? $100? What is more important, a human being or the money?”
“A human being,” said Charles’ neighbor, Edner Azulphart, who was spending time with Charles Sunday afternoon.
Autopsy results released Monday revealed Damour’s cause of death to be asphyxiation, due to the pressure on his chest from shoppers stepping on him. A Nassau County Police representative said they do not know if any shoppers will face criminal charges. Police said the investigation is ongoing, and they are continuing to review the video tapes that document Damour’s death.
Though Nassau police said Wal-Mart did not have an adequate number of security to deal with the crowd gathered at its Valley Stream store, Wal-Mart issued a release saying it had prepared for a large turnout Friday.
“We expected a large crowd this morning and added additional internal security, additional third-party security, additional store associates and we worked closely with the Nassau County Police,” Wal-Mart said. “We also erected barricades. Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred.”
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, the state’s largest grocery workers union, Sunday called for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state Department of Labor and Nassau County prosecutor to investigate Damour’s death.
“This incident was avoidable,” union President Bruce Both said in a prepared statement. “Where were the safety barriers? Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner? This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined, though Charles said his son would be buried in the United States. Damour’s mother was planning to fly in from her native Haiti to bury her child.
Christina Santucci contributed to this article.