KPRC 2 Investigates: Woman says store manager put her in headlock on her birthday; family says she did nothing wrong

HOUSTON – On her 25th birthday, Asia Joseph looks over several fashionable outfits with her mother Angela at home in her bedroom.

But it’s what happened Monday afternoon, on the Fourth of July, inside this fashionable clothing store Rue 21 in southeast Houston that has left Asia and her mother reeling.

”It’s my daughter and somebody has her in a chokehold. We already know what happens when you have somebody in a chokehold. I’m a registered nurse myself and I know what happens when you’re choking somebody. They can’t breathe,” said Angela Louison, Asia’s mother.

In a video captured on a cellphone by another shopper at the Rue 21 clothing store on Almeda Genoa Road in southeast Houston, it shows a male employee at the store holding Asia in a headlock on the Fourth of July after Asia said she and a female worker at the store got into an altercation over how many clothing items Asia had in her hands (the store limit is six). That’s when Asia said a man who worked at the store suddenly grabbed her and put her in a tight chokehold.

“Did you hit this female store clerk first or did she hit you first?” I ask her.

“She hit me first. I didn’t touch her,” Asia said.

Asia said about 30 seconds later, a man who claimed to be a manager grabbed her by the neck and put her in a headlock.

“So, he’s choking me, he’s hurting me, I say again and again on the video. I say again and again, ‘Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go. Please,’ I say,” Asia said.

“So he had me in a headlock and would not let me go, no matter what. And I just kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Please let me go,’” Asia said.

Finally, Asia said the store saleswoman she had been arguing with told the man to let her go.

And he released her.

Asia said she left the store and called both her mother and Houston police to file a report of an assault against the man who choked her and held her captive by the neck.

As for Asia’s mother, Angela, she wants to see that man prosecuted and the store get rid of him.

”They need to fire him right away, because if he can’t restrain himself from putting someone in a chokehold, he clearly doesn’t need to work in that store. He needs to be punished for what he did,” Angela said.

KPRC 2 Investigates contacted both the store manager and the district manager for Rue 21 in southeast Houston. The district manager told us they had absolutely no comment on this at this time.

KPRC 2 will continue to follow this story, both online and on television, in the weeks to come.

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.