Outrage Grows After Safeway Suspends Monterey Worker Who Stopped Attack

DEL REY OAKS, Monterey County (CBS 5) — Safeway’s suspension of a Monterey County employee after stopping a domestic assault has become a public relations headache for the grocery chain.

Police said Ryan Young, a meat clerk at the Del Rey Oaks location, intervened when he saw Quyen Van Tran beating his pregnant girlfriend in the store last month.

“If it was their wife who was pregnant or their daughter who was pregnant who was being attacked, would they want someone to step in and help them?” Young said.

Authorities, including the city’s police chief, praised Young for stopping the assault.

Young was suspended for supposedly violating company policy. He has no income while his wife is five months pregnant.

CBS 5 has received numerous e-mails, comments and Facebook messages from viewers, saying Young got a raw deal. Several have threatened to stop shopping at Safeway. One woman even offered to help Young financially.

The grocery chain released a statement to CBS affiliate KION on Wednesday. It said:

“Safeway is taking this matter seriously. We have store security video of the incident, and have been engaged in a careful and thoughtful forensic review of what transpired. There are two sides to every story, and we would ask that judgment be reserved. The matter is being handled through the union grievance procedure provided for in our labor agreement. We will be relying on the video and other relevant evidence as well as statements of eyewitnesses and other information to make a final decision. Beyond that, it is premature to comment on a personnel matter of this kind. The safety of our customers and employees is of paramount importance, and we appreciate the public’s patience as we give the issue the time and attention that it deserves.”

The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office also has a copy of the surveillance video.

Attorney Tom Worthington said the grocery chain and Young are in a difficult position.

“They can’t have a policy that just gives carte blanche to the employees to intervene anytime and anywhere that the employee thinks is suitable. But on the other hand, in my judgment, they shouldn’t have a policy that is so strict that the employee can’t do the right thing,” Worthington said.

Young is hoping Safeway does what he said is the right thing.

“I should be reinstated to my job,” Young said. “That’s how I feel.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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