This story is sparking a pretty big debate on my (personal) Facebook page, so I wanted to give it to you guys to get your thoughts. Was the shooting justified, given the circumstances, or was it completely unnecessary?
A 27-year-old mother of two has been fatally shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy after he suspected her of shoplifting at a Houston Walmart.
Harris County Sheriff’s deputies have said that victim Shelly Frey, Tisa Andrews and Yolanda Craig were stealing when they were confronted by Louis Campbell a 26-year veteran of the force who works as a security guard at the store.
According to Campbell the women ran to their car and when he rushed to open the door, they accelerated away – at which point he fired the deadly shot into the car which hit Frey in the neck.
Security at the store on the 14000 block of the North Freeway had noticed the three women ‘stuffing items inside their purses’ and notified Campbell, who was working an extra job that evening.
Investigators with Harris County said the three women even attempted to pay for some small items to act as a cover for the shoplifted ones.
After chasing Frey and the other two women to their car, Campbell opened the door and commanded Frey to get out. But she refused, officials said.
Andrews began to drive away while the deputy was standing between the open door and the driver’s seat.
‘She threw it in reverse and tried to run over the deputy,’ said Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland.
‘He confronted the suspects at exit of the store before they left. One female wouldn’t stop, struck the deputy with her purse, ran off.’
‘I think it knocked him off balance and, in fear of his life and being ran over, he discharged his weapon at that point.’
Inside the car as it was speeding away were two small children – investigators have said that they were not Frey’s children.
Gilliland said it was clear that the deputy was law enforcement.
‘He was clearly marked in uniform as a Harris County deputy. And identified himself as the suspects were leaving the establishment,’ said Gilliland to KHOU.Com
Despite the shooting, the women fled but eventually they stopped at The Worthington at the Beltway apartments in the 1300 block of Greens Parkway.
Paramedics from the Houston Fire Department arrived to try and save Frey, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘Shelly was the perfect mom, perfect friend, perfect daughter,’ said her father, Shelton Frey.
He said that his daughter had moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina to start a new life, but the amount of work she could do was limited by her two-year-old who has sickle cell anemia.
‘Why couldn’t you just shoot the tire, shoot the window?’ said her mother Sharon Wilkerson. ‘Was it that serious?’
She added that even if her daughter had committed a crime, she did not deserve to die and she worries now for her two young grandchildren.
‘How do I tell these children she’s not coming back,’ said Sharon.
‘To me, it should never (have) happened. I wish the officer didn’t shoot her. I wish he shot her tires just to slow her down. That’s a mother you know. And now they have to figure out what to do with the kids,’ said Angel Gaines, a neighbor.
Kesha Sapp, a woman who knew Frey, agreed.
‘What that look like with him shooting with the darn kids in the car? There were kids in the car with them. Why is he shooting at the car? Come on now, that makes him look bad. That don’t even look right,’ said Sapp.
Both Andrews and Craig, the two other women allegedly involved, have been charged with shoplifting.
Tragically, Frey wasn’t even supposed to be at a Walmart that evening.
Earlier in the year she pleaded guilty to stealing shirts and a package of meat from another Walmart and as part of her plea arrangement she agreed to never enter Walmart stores again.
Deputy Campbell is on three days paid leave as is standard protocol. He’s been with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, Office of the Inspector General and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will investigate this incident. The case will be turned over to a grand jury.
Walmart offered the following statement: ‘This is a tragic situation and we recognize this is a difficult time for all parties involved. We’re committed to working with law enforcement and providing any information we have as they determine the facts of the case. Because this is an active investigation, any specific details of the incident should come from law enforcement.
‘We hire off duty officers to provide security to some of our stores. While we have policies in place for our associates to disengage from situations that might put them or others in harm’s way, off-duty officers working at a WM store are authorized to act in accordance with their department’s code of conduct.’