Police Probe Death of Physician Held in Shoplifting

Special to The Times

Police in the northern San Luis Obispo County town of Atascadero are investigating the death of a 40-year-old physician after he was detained by Kmart store security officials for allegedly shoplifting.

Dr. Samuel R. Kaidi, who worked as an emergency room doctor at General Hospital in San Luis Obispo, died after surgery following the incident Sunday afternoon at the Kmart in Atascadero. Kaidi was a resident of Orange, police said.

Though the full cause of death is not known, Atascadero Police Det. Terry O’Farrell said Kaidi’s spleen ruptured and he bled internally. He said family members reported that Kaidi had an enlarged spleen in the past.


Police were called just after 12:30 p.m. by Kmart security employees, who said they had a combative shoplifting suspect who appeared to be having medical problems, O’Farrell said. Kaidi was taken by ambulance to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, where he died after emergency surgery.

Autopsy and toxicology reports should be available in two weeks, O’Farrell said. He said there was no evidence that Kaidi had been beaten or abused.

The detective also said that a security videotape was consistent with what Kmart employees reported, that Kaidi seemed to have something hidden underneath one arm, which he kept stiff. Kaidi reportedly had two Leatherman-type tools that he had not paid for in his possession when he was stopped in the parking lot, O’Farrell said.

Kaidi worked about seven days a month at General Hospital, the county hospital on the eastern side of San Luis Obispo. Like many emergency room physicians throughout the state, he worked as a contractor for Team Health. He also worked at a hospital in Orange County.

Dr. Willard Towle, medical director for General Hospital’s emergency room, said the staff was still stunned late in the week about Kaidi’s death. “I saw Sam on Sunday morning,” Towle said. “We changed shifts about 8 or 8:30. He was in a great mood, looked normal, and then some hours later I get a call from an Atascadero detective asking me if I know a guy named Kaidi.”

A Kmart spokessaid the store is cooperating with police.