It started over two pairs of Prada shoes worth $900.
Police said security guards at the Century 21 store in lower Manhattan followed a man — seen in the video wearing a red sweater — 19-year-old Victor Roberson after seeing him allegedly stuff the shoes in his bag Friday night.
But the altercation grew out of hand, as seen in video above that bystanders filmed Friday night. Multiple guards are seen piling on top of Roberson outside of the store.
The woman with pink hair in the video is Roberson's girlfriend, Ezariah McPhee, who slammed the altercation while speaking to NY1 on Saturday.
"The scariest point for me was when they would not stop choking him. Because not only did they choke him with two hands, they proceeded to choke him with this," McPhee said, wrapping her right arm around her throat. "Then choked him by his sweater. And he has asthma. He was red the whole time."
McPhee said she feared for Roberson's life, and described the situation as a beat down.
"They have the right to restrain, but that wasn't a restraint," McPhee said. "A restraint is hand held behind your head, holding; not slamming like they're a football player, and not choking and definitely not punching."
Police said Roberson has been arrested multiple times since 2015 for stealing clothes from stores.
They said after the 19-year-old was treated at a local hospital for back and neck pain, he was taken back to the police precinct to be charged for shoplifting.
But after reviewing the video, police also arrested and charged store security guard, 24-year-old Wilson Acosta, with assault. He has no prior arrests. NY1 spoke to one of Acosta's neighbors, who described the security guard as quiet and nice.
McPhee said police did the right thing. "Those 1st Precinct people — the police — they're good people," McPhee said. "They really listened to us, even in a messed up and very hostile situation."
She said her boyfriend should face legal consequences for breaking the law, but she said she felt the security guards crossed the line and put themselves and others in danger.
Century 21 shoppers reacting to the video agreed. "His job did not say he had to punch a shoplifter in the face and restrain hi, chokehold him, all of this," one shopper said. "No, all you have to do is stop them, search them, get back the items that they stole, and go on with your day."
The job description for a loss prevention guard at Century 21 requires them to apprehend shoplifters, according to an application online.
Century 21 has not commented on the incident or its policies.
McPhee said she plans to sue the department store.