Credit: Anna Vignet/Reveal

A man hospitalized after being shot by a Sacramento, California, security guard outside a 7-Eleven store now is suing the guard and his prior employer, claiming the guard used excessive force.

The violent encounter occurred in February, when armed guard Dustin Arlis White spotted Sulman Hafeez urinating on the side of the building. White approached Hafeez and told him to leave. When he refused, White responded by taking Hafeez to the ground to arrest him for trespassing. You can watch the surveillance camera footage here.

According to Fox 40 news, Hafeez’ attorney, Matthew Eason, acknowledges that his client was drunk and should not have urinated on the wall. However, he told Fox 40: “The mace attack … when you look at how he shakes the mace … he’s prepared to mace him before there’s even an event.”

What happened next occurred outside the view of surveillance cameras. In an incident report he wrote, White said Hafeez began fighting him. That prompted White to use his pepper spray once and his stun gun three times, he said.

But it didn’t stop Hafeez, White wrote. He said Hafeez began bashing his head into the roots of a nearby tree.

“It is at this time that I am in fear of my life,” White wrote. “I was pinned down and unable to subdue the inebriated man by any means.”

White shot Hafeez once in the stomach, then immediately handcuffed him and called police.

Hafeez is facing criminal charges for battering White. White’s former employer, Cal Force Security, voluntarily surrendered its license in April. However, White was not charged with a crime and continued to work as a security guard.

In June, according to news reports, White was involved in another shooting. Two people were shot in an exchange of gunfire between White and an unknown person.

According to news reports, Sacramento police were investigating whether White was justified in the second shooting.

A previous investigation by Reveal found that the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services has at times failed to thoroughly investigate shootings, allowing guards who misused their guns to keep their licenses and their jobs. At a subsequent hearing, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said he was concerned that guards are able to continue working following shootings.

“If there’s a police officer that’s in a shooting, they go on desk duty. They are removed from duty pending the outcome of an investigation. And that doesn’t occur here,” he said. “Those individuals can continue to go about their business without a suspension.”

Although he still is licensed to work as an armed security guard, White now works as a carpenter, according to news reports.

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Shoshana Walter is a reporter for Reveal, covering criminal justice. She and reporter Amy Julia Harris exposed how courts across the country are sending defendants to rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. Their work was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting. It also won the Knight Award for Public Service, a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting, and an Edward R. Murrow Award, and was a finalist for the Selden Ring, IRE and Livingston Awards. It led to numerous government investigations, two criminal probes and five federal class-action lawsuits alleging slavery, labor violations and fraud.

Walter's investigation on America's armed security guard industry revealed how armed guard licenses have been handed out to people with histories of violence, even people barred by courts from owning guns. Walter and reporter Ryan Gabrielson won the 2015 Livingston Award for Young Journalists for national reporting based on the series, which prompted new laws and an overhaul of California’s regulatory system. For her 2016 investigation about the plight of "trimmigrants," marijuana workers in California's Emerald Triangle, Walter embedded herself in illegal mountain grows and farms. There, she encountered an epidemic of sex abuse and human trafficking in the industry – and a criminal justice system focused more on the illegal drugs. The story prompted legislation, a criminal investigation and grass-roots efforts by the community, including the founding of a worker hotline and safe house.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. Her narrative nonfiction as a local reporter garnered a national Sigma Delta Chi Award and a Gold Medal for Public Service from the Florida Society of News Editors. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.