DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A security guard working at a Dallas Home Depot last April when two Dallas Police officers were shot and one was killed, explained to CBS 11 what he remembers about that day.
This in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the families of Officer Rogelio Santander, who was killed, and Officer Crystal Almeida, who was critically injured, against Home Depot and the security company.
“I did everything legally possible to try and prevent what happened,” said security guard Elijah Lateef.
From the beginning, Lateef says he didn’t feel good about taking a security guard job at this Dallas Home Depot.
He recalls a conversation he had with a manager for Allied Universal Security Services – the company he was working for at the time.
“He said the area is kind of sketchy,” said Lateef. “I said, ‘is it armed?’ He was like ‘no’. So I’m thinking ‘yeah I’m not doing it’.”
But as a veteran with a background in military police work, Lateef says his company was relying on him so he took the job.
He was working alongside an off-duty Dallas police officer April 24 of last year when Armando Luiz Juarez walked in.
“The day of the shooting, Scott Painter -who is the loss prevention officer – he radioed the Dallas police officer and said ‘Hey I have a guy on camera. He’s carrying an orange painters bucket and he’s on camera stealing. Can you guys go ahead and confront him?'”
Lateef says as they approached Juarez he felt uneasy.
“I was like something ain’t right about this guy.”
Lateef says right away – they took a can of mace off Juarez – then the off duty officer started patting down Juarez.
“The police officer has the full authority to do it. I’m just there for support.”
Lateef says the pat down was never completed.
When Dallas Police officers Rogelio Santander Jr. and Crystal Almeida arrived, the off-duty officer went outside to check for any outstanding warrants.
There was an active warrant for Juarez.
Lateef says Juarez immediately shot Santander, Almeida and Painter.
“I ducked and ran to my car,” said Lateef.
Lateef says he grabbed his bullet proof vest and gun.
“I ran back in clearing the store, trying to help kids and adults get out of the store and I was actively looking for Mr. Juarez.”
That night, Juarez was located and arrested.
Santander died and Almeida and Painter were seriously injured.
Now Almeida’s and Santander’s families are suing Home Depot, Allied, Lateef and the off duty officer – accusing negligence. Juarez is also included in the lawsuit.
“This is a systematic failure by many people,” said Scott Palmer, an attorney representing the victims’ families.
“Not only did they not conduct a proper pat down, but they didn’t warn the officers that they didn’t do that when they arrived,” said James Roberts, another attorney representing the victims’ families.
CBS 11 reached out to both Home Depot and Allied about the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Home Depot sent statement saying, “Our hearts go out to the officers, regardless of the suit.”
A spokesperson for Allied told CBS 11 “We send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims of this senseless crime. Allied Universal takes all lawsuits seriously, but we are unable to comment on the pending litigation.”