Nassau County prosecutors announced today that Wal-Mart will avoid criminal charges for any wrongdoing in contributing to the Black Friday stampede inside a Long Island store that left one employee dead and several others injured. Instead the retail giant will pay out nearly $2 million to community programs and create a fund to compensate victims injured amidst the chaos, as well as instill new crowd-control measures throughout local stores.
A rep for Wal-Mart said, "We have never had a tragedy like this happen in one of our stores and we never want to have it happen again. We are determined to learn from it." The company did not admit any fault in the agreement.
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice tried to put a positive spin on the settlement, saying, "No prosecution could have achieved what we have been able to do with this agreement,. Rather than bringing the world's largest retailer to court and imposing a small fine against them, I felt it was important to require significant safety changes that will affect the whole state." As part of the deal, Wal-Mart has also agreed to hire 50 local high school students annually for the next three years.
While county officials and Wal-Mart may have settled their issues with one another, bot are still being sued by the family of Jdimytai Damour, the temporary employee who was trampled to death in the melee. After the announcement of the settlement, his father was unavailable for comment and his mother is reported to have returned to Haiti because she is not doing well. But a family friend told Newsday, "Two million? For somebody's life [it's] not worth nothing. He was 34 years old. It's nothing. It's nothing. He lost his life. People walked on him, breaking all his bones. They should cancel that Black Friday business."