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Suspected Walmart thief dies after altercation with employees

(Reuters) - A suspected shoplifter died in Georgia on Sunday after a confrontation with two Walmart employees and a contract security guard who caught him in the store's parking lot, local media reported.

Police said the man stole two DVD players from a Walmart in Lithonia, southeast of Atlanta, before he walked out the front door and was apprehended by the workers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported in a story on its website.

The three workers were on top of the man when police arrived, and officers found him unresponsive and bleeding from his mouth and nose, the newspaper said.

The man was taken to a local hospital, where he was declared dead. He appeared to have been put in a choke hold by the security officer, the paper reported.

The two store associates have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said in a statement. Walmart will no longer use the services of the security officer, Gee said.

"No amount of merchandise is worth someone's life," Gee said. "Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk."

"That being said, this is still an active investigation and we're working with police to provide any assistance," Gee said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; Editing by Dan Whitcomb)

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