SAN BERNADINO, Calif. – While picking up a coffee on the morning of April 20, a California man was reportedly assaulted by grocery store workers after he made a sarcastic comment about their customer service.
When father-of-seven John Valencia went to the Stater Brothers grocery store in San Bernadino to buy some coffee and creamer, he noticed there was only one, very long, checkout line open. Valencia says he approached a manager and asked him to open another one, and, when he was blatantly ignored, he sarcastically commented on the “great customer service.”
“I just went and got in line. I was like, ‘Well, thank you,’ you know, ‘great customer service,'” recalled Valencia to Fox 13.
“At no time was I being aggressive,” continued Valencia,” at no time was I being loud, was I threatening him or any way.”
The manager then reportedly grew frustrated and aggressive with Valencia and workers suddenly grabbed him and dragged him into a closet where they beat him.
“Other employees came, and I can remember it was like they had me on the ground, and I seen them trying to close the door, and I was trying to kick the door open so they wouldn’t close it, and they grabbed my legs and pulled them up,” Valencia reported.
“Two of them started beating on me, then they started kicking my face and stomping on my back and stomping on my head while holding me down,” he said. Finally, Valencia said, someone told the employees to “let him up.”
Valencia reported injuries including a concussion, a large bump on the back of his head, and a split eyebrow from the attack.
A witness captured a brief recording of the encounter but did not capture footage from inside the closet where Valencia was allegedly assaulted. The video does, however, capture the beginning of the altercation, as one of the store employees violently shoves Valencia.
“Oh my gosh,” the customer capturing the moment on a cellphone was heard saying. “Are they jumpin’ this man?”
After calling 911, he called his wife Meagan Lacey to let her know what had happened at the grocery store.
In the interview with Fox 13, Lacey said that Valencia is their family’s protector and that it was “terrifying to get the phone call from him.”
Lacey also expressed her horror that no one in the grocery store made any move to stop the attack. “There were so many people in that store and so many employees and so many people that were given the chance to help, and nobody did – she was the only one,” Lacey said, acknowledging that the woman who recorded the video was the only one who did anything to help her husband.
“I know that she couldn’t have done much physically against all those people, so I’m just thankful that she did record it and that she was willing to share that recording,” said Lacey.
Stater Brothers, the grocery store at which the assault occurred, issued the following statement:
“We are currently conducting an internal investigation of the incident and are unable to comment any further at this time.”