James Leach strangles coworker while on smoke break at LX Pantos

29-year-old LX Pantos employee James Leach was involved in an altercation with Deborah Rifkin on December 7th. The dispute started when Leach came behind Rifkin while she was on a smoke break and, wrapped his arms around her from behind, and began to strangle her. Rifkin told law enforcement she could not speak during the incident and later developed hoarseness throughout her shift due to the strangulation. Officers observed that Rifkin did have a raspyness in her voice. Coworkers reported that she sounded fine at the start of her shift, but when she was about to leave, it sounded like she was losing her voice.

LX Pantos provided law enforcement video footage of what happened outside the employee entrance. Leach approached Rifkin from the front and opened his jacket. He then steps around the left side of her and positions himself behind her, wraps his right arm under her right arm, wraps his left arm over her left shoulder and around her neck. In the video, his left hand was visibly proximate to Riskin’s right shoulder. Rifkin appears to struggle; she leans forward, Leach leans forward with her, and then she appears to break free suddenly. Leach was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault on December 12th.

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