Timohy Knutsen, aged 53, is certified on when and how to use Mace. He was the training director for one of the largest security companies in St. Paul.
That is why it comes as a big surprise to the police that Knutsen pepper sprayed an unidentified 20-year old autistic man from Roseville in the face. The crime? He ate a cookie from a sample tray.
Knutsen say a man eating “a doughnut or a cookie” from the bakery and that alarmed him. When he told an employee of the store who was working at the service desk, she said there was nothing she could do. Obviously, this meant he had to take matters into his own hands.
Only 30 seconds later, the autistic man’s screams could be heard throughout the store.
Knutsen quickly fled the scene. He called the police 2 days later to give his side of the story, saying that the kid seemed like he “was on drugs.”
Knutsen has since lost his job. He had trained the store he was at on ‘loss prevention’ as a part of his security company, and that may be why he was so sensitive to this issue. Either way, he went too far.
From Twin Cities:
“The fact that (the Roseville man) was able to go grocery shopping on his own and be independent in that respect is actually a great thing,” Weinberg said. “The Cub for him was most likely a known, familiar place, and now it’s a place where he’s attacked for no reason. “The vast majority of people with autism live with extreme anxiety, and to have been attacked without warning in a place that was thought to be safe can be even more traumatic.” Knutsen said he decided to leave when the man began yelling and “everyone was looking at him.” He later turned his car around, “noticed the squad cars and then decided to bring his groceries home first.” When he came back, the police cars were gone, and “he thought it must not have been that serious.”
Knutsen told police he was director of training for American Security, a firm based in St. Paul, that according to its website employs “in excess of 1,500 professionals engaged in security and security-related services.” The company released a statement Wednesday saying that “when American Security was made aware of the incident, we took immediate and decisive action with regard to Mr. Knutsen’s behavior,” adding that Knutsen was “no longer employed by American Security or any of its related companies.”
“It is vitally important that all security officers understand and recognize the appropriate level of response in any situation. We found his actions deplorable and will be reinforcing our training to continue to reflect our policy of de-escalation,” the statement added.