Box cutter used against shoplifter who resisted citizen's arrest.
Deadly force appears authorized against a shoplifter only if there is a reasonable fear of serious personal injury during the arrest.
Only reasonable force, but not deadly force, authorized for citizen's arrest in NY.
Looks like a baton/bat/taser would have been a better choice.
If however, the shoplifter had taken the goods under threat of violence (robbery), deadly force would have been authorized.
I was following the case right after it happened and I tend to agree that the clerk is probably screwed. This is a good example of how, in a self defense case, other than saying you were attacked and pointing out any witnesses or evidence, you should speak to a lawyer before sharing you story with the police.
If he had spoken to a lawyer, he probably would have been advised to emphasize the fear for his life that he felt from the thief during their struggle, as opposed to his desire to get the stolen merchandise returned.
Maybe, his lawyer can still sell that his life was in danger. Or perhaps, if he had taken some of the merchandise back, and then the thief fought him to steal it again, his lawyer could argue that it became a robbery.
While there was nothing illegal about chasing down the thief, the clerk would have been wiser to just call the police, which I am almost certain is 7-11 policy. Even if he had retrieved the stolen goods, and apprehended the thief without injuring him, the clerk probably still would have been fired. It is a shame that he will probably spend several years in prison for trying to stop someone from stealing from his employer.
I believe both the dead thief and the clerk are black, which a least takes the racial politics out of it.