NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, November 26, 2015, 7:31 PM
Shoppers crowd the entrance of the Walmart at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. on Nov. 2008. The photo was taken shortly before shoppers burst through the doors and trampled Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour.
When the Damour family gathers now for Thanksgiving dinner it’s always tinged with sadness — and Black Friday is even worse.
Their “gentle giant” relative, Jdimytai Damour, was trampled to death by a mob of wild shoppers who smashed through the doors of a Long Island Walmart on Black Friday seven years ago.
“It’s very difficult to cope,” his cousin, Ralph Damour, told the Daily News this week. “I never shop on Black Friday. That would be dishonoring his memory.”
“We used to play together when we were younger,” the cousin added. “He was a great guy.”
The shocking death on the busiest shopping day of the year garnered national headlines and spurred major safety changes by retailers.
“He was a young man full of life — and suddenly it was taken by people being greedy for stuff on sale,” Ralph Damour said. “It never should have happened.”
Jdimytai Damour, 34, who was known to buddies as Jimbo, was working as an overnight stock clerk at the Green Acres Mall Walmart in Valley Stream on Black Friday 2008.
Determined deal seekers had been waiting in line all night for deep discounts on a limited number of TVs, iPods, DVD players and other tech items.
The 6-foot-5 clerk was trying to hold back a throng of some 2,000 early-morning shoppers pushing against the store’s sliding-glass double doors when he was trampled to death.
“We always think about him on Black Friday and what could have been different,” his aunt Margareth Damour told The News this week.”
“Every time I go by the [Walmart’s] door I think about him.”
A worried Walmart supervisor called the Nassau County Police Department after the crowd surged past eight interlocking plastic barriers about three hours before Jdimytai Damour was trampled.
A 1993 Freeport High School photo of Jdimytai Damour, the 34-year-old Walmart employee who was trampled to death on Black Friday in 2008.
Responding cops used bullhorns to order the crowd back but later left after claiming dealing with the crowd was “not in their job description,” according to court records.
A group of shoppers soon pushed their way past the barriers again.
The store supervisor ordered the bigger staffers like Jdimytai Damour to guard the front door from the frenzied crowd. Right before the store opened at 5 a.m., the doors fell on top of Damour due to the mass of the throng.
“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” Walmart worker Jimmy Overby told the Daily News at the time.
Four other people were injured, including a pregnant woman who said Jdimytai Damour tried to help her before he was trampled.
The year after the tragedy, former Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice moved to file felony reckless endangerment charges against Walmart. But a few months later, Walmart agreed to pay nearly $ 2 million to settle the case and avoid criminal prosecution. That settlement included $ 400,000 to compensate Jdimytai Damour’s family and the injured victims.
Walmart paid nearly $ 2 million to settle the case and avoid criminal prosecution in connection to Damour’s death. The settlement included $ 400,000 for Damour’s family and injured victims.
Around the same time, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded Walmart committed a “serious violation” of rules requiring employers to make sure their workers are safe from hazards. Walmart went on to spend nearly six years and more than $ 1 million battling against a $ 7,000 fine and federal citation.
During the appeal process, Walmart bigwigs argued the citation was unfair because safeguarding staffers from crowds wasn’t a federal standard when the incident occurred. They also contended they had taken reasonable safety precautions.
In March, the Arkansas-based retailer paid the $ 7,000 fine and accepted the citation, OSHA announced.
“With all likelihood that this matter would not conclude for a long time, we’ve decided to put it behind us and withdraw our appeal,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told Newsday at the time.
But there’s no moving on for the Damour family.
“He was a very nice guy and a hard worker,” Jdimytai Damour’s aunt said. “It is very sad that he died — and the way he died.”