Video shows man in wheelchair attacked at a Target store after parking spot dispute

Philip Kinstler, 52, suffered a broken wrist after asking an able-bodied driver not to park in a handicapped-accessible spot
Jimmie Tiger, 32, was arrested Jan. 19 following an assault and attempted kidnapping after he allegedly got into an argument over a handicap parking space with a man using a wheelchair and dumped him onto the floor of a Target store
Jimmie Tiger, 32, was arrested Jan. 19 following an assault and attempted kidnapping after he allegedly got into an argument over a handicap parking space with a man using a wheelchair and dumped him onto the floor of a Target storePleasant Hill Police Department
By David K. Li

A partially paralyzed man was violently attacked inside a California department store after he asked an able-bodied woman not to park in a handicapped-accessible spot, authorities said Friday.

The assault happened on Jan. 11 and was captured by surveillance cameras at a Target store in Pleasant Hill, about 30 miles northeast of downtown San Francisco, officials said.

Philip Kinstler, 52, is paralyzed from the chest down but uses a wheelchair and can drive a specially outfitted van. Kinstler spotted a woman parking in a handicapped spot, without a permit, outside of Target and asked her not to do that again, authorities said.

After Kinstler entered Target, he was allegedly confronted by Jimmie Tiger, a 32-year-old resident of San Ramon and the woman's husband. Tiger angrily demanded that Kinstler apologize to his wife and then tried to wheel the victim out of the store, Kinstler and police said.

"I grabbed my wheels, the rims of my wheels, and held on for dear life," Kinstler told NBC News on Friday. "I was certain he and [the woman] were going to beat the hell out of me if they got me out of the store."

With Kinstler fighting against being moved, the frustrated suspect then "violently lifted the victim’s wheelchair from the side, throwing the victim down onto the floor," according to a police statement.

Kinstler, who weighs 130 pounds and his wheelchair 20 pounds, said he was shocked how easily Tiger lifted and threw him down.

“When we got the case and saw the video we moved it top of the list, made it a priority," Pleasant Hill Police Lt. Scott Vermillion said.

Kinstler, who plays and fixes guitars, said he knew instantly his left wrist had been shattered.

"I was devastated," Kinstler said of initial fears he wouldn't be able to drive or pick up a guitar again. "But I was more devastated when I saw the video and nobody doing anything. Everyone was standing around, not doing a thing."

Vermillion also said he surprised no one jumped to Kinstler's side before Tiger allegedly threw him down.

A manager of that Target store said her staff reacted as fast as possible.

"We did have our asset protection agents there to respond to the situation," she said.

The confrontation appeared to last about 80 seconds, and surveillance video showed a man in a white hat approaching Kinstler and Tiger about 65 seconds into the incident. That man was a store employee, trying to intervene, Target spokeswoman Danielle Schumann said.

“We are there, trying to deescalate the situation," Schumann told NBC News on Friday, describing footage of the man in the white hat.

In a statement, Schumann said Target cooperated with police to help find the suspect.

"At Target, the safety of our guests is our top priority and we're saddened that this unfolded in our store," Schumann said in her statement. "We have no tolerance for this kind of behavior and our store team immediately went to the guest’s aid. We also called the San Ramon Police Department and provided them with security footage and information to use in their investigation."

A witness in the parking lot got a partial license plate number of the SUV driven by Tiger and his wife, police said. License-plate-reading cameras set up around the city got the rest of the suspect's plate, leading to his Jan. 19 arrest.

Tiger was charged with attempted kidnapping and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. He spent a night in jail before making bail, police said.

Kinstler said doctors hope he'll be able to put weight on his left wrist and drive again in March.

NBC News left messages for several publicly listed phone numbers for Tiger but he did not immediately respond on Friday.