Lawyer for woman in viral beauty store choking video wants new investigation

A screenshot from video taken at Missha Beauty on Thursday, provided by the NAACP
A screenshot from video taken at Missha Beauty on Thursday, provided by the NAACP NAACP via WBTV

An attorney representing a woman seen in a viral video being choked by a Charlotte beauty supply store manager said the woman wants an independent investigation into the matter.

The incident happened March 9 when ex-manager Sung Ho Lim accused the woman, who has not been identified by police, of shoplifting eyelashes from the Missha Beauty Supply store in west Charlotte. In a video that garnered national attention, Lim is shown kicking the woman, knocking her to the ground and placing her in a headlock, after the woman said he could check her bag and the two shoved each other.

The incident led to protests against the retailer after the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP posted the video online. The NAACP called for people to boycott the store.

WBTV, the Observer’s news partner reported Lim had been fired. Lim confirmed to the station that he was the man in the video.

An unserved criminal summons was filed against Lim on March 27, meaning he has been charged but not served.

Yolanda Trotman, whose firm is representing the woman, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police detectives also issued a summons for the woman before the woman could provide a complete statement of the event. Trotman said the process is unacceptable, and wants the summons rescinded and new charges brought against Lim and another woman seen in the video.

“He violently kicked her, choked her for more than 30 seconds and violently twisted her arm behind her back,” Trotman said in a statement Thursday. “She has been denied a fair, complete and unbiased investigation.”

CMPD didn’t provide an update or comment on the case when asked Friday.

Weeks ago, CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said an employee is allowed to use reasonable force at a store to detain a shoplifting suspect.

Police wouldn’t say then if they believed Lim had used reasonable force.

Joe Kennedy, a professor of law at the UNC Chapel Hill, said it is lawful for a store employee to defend themselves or use reasonable force to detain a shoplifter, but doesn’t consider it reasonable for an employee to go beyond grabbing that person.

“That’s the basic principle,” Kennedy said about force. “But it must be reasonable. And so, if someone is running out of your store, can you grab them? Yes. Can you hit them? No.”

LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS