They have a gun and a badge, but they are not police. NewsChannel5 Investigates reveals the surprising truth behind security guard training and oversight.more>>
It's a multimillion-dollar industry, but many of the employees work for just a few dollars an hour.
NewsChannel5 Investigates found a common thread in many of Tennessee's security guard shootings.
Kevin Bowman's life was changed forever by an encounter with an armed security guard.
"The left side of my body has been paralyzed. Obviously, I'm here for a reason. The day this happened it wasn't my time to go," said Bowman.
NewsChannel5 Investigates obtained surveillance video showing the security guard just minutes before he shot Bowman.
The video showed 63-year-old Jesse Walker inside a jewelry store in Knoxville. Bowman and his girlfriend were outside, in the store's parking lot. They'd been arguing when Walker left the jewelry store and apparently tried to arrest them.
When the two tried to leave the guard shot Bowman in the head and his girlfriend in the back.
"I even showed him I was unarmed. I lifted up my shirt emptied my pockets showed him and he still wanted use lethal force," said Bowman.
Bowman spent more than 90 days in the hospital. His girlfriend survived after running inside the jewelry store and collapsing.
NewsChannel5 Investigates looked through news achieves and found 15 security guard related shootings in Tennessee since 2005. Some of the cases resulted in charges against the security guards and some did not.
In case after case we found a common thread, often the person shot was unarmed and just wanted to leave.
June 2006: Tim Alumbaugh was shot to death after a security guard caught him and his girlfriend having sex in the back of a truck stop.
July 2008: Adam Villegas was shot to death when police said he was simply driving away from a Nashville bar. A security guard shot him in the back of the neck.
April 2008: Andre McLauren was shot outside a Memphis bar in front of his wife. She said he was driving off the property.
"They fired not caring because I'm standing right in the middle of all this," said Andre's wife Angela McLauren.
She ran to her husband's side and begged him to hold on for their two kids.
"He turned and looked at me and told me he couldn't because there was too much blood and he died right then," said Angela McLauren.
Attorney Nick Leonard has reviewed Tennessee's laws about security guard training.
"Additional training would have taught you don't use a firearm willy nilly when you decide you want to do that," said Leonardo.
He believed security guards need more situational training. Metro police officers use paint guns in their training about when to shoot and not to shoot.
Security guards get no situational training in their 16 hours of required training.
Steve Majchrzak, the assistant commissioner for Commerce and Insurance, the state department that regulates security guards, said situational training for security guards was something that was being discussed with state lawmakers.
Nick Leonardo believed security companies do not want additional training for employees because it will add to their costs.
"The reason we don't have more oversight is because we have a lucrative lobby in our general assembly as it pertains to private security companies," said Leonardo.
Majchrzak told investigative reporter Ben Hall the lobby has not stopped reform.
"Have you had trouble enacting reform as a result of the security guard lobby?" asked Hall.
"No. Not at this point," answered Majchrzak.
Security guard laws have not changed much since 1987. Kevin Bowman wondered if increased training would have made a difference for him.
"The training that he's had, he should not have done this. He went across the line," said Bowman.
Police are still investigating the Knoxville shooting in which Bowman and his girlfriend were shot by a security guard. Security guard Jessie Walker was cooperating with the investigation.
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