Death Penalty for Shoplifting

Sharon Wilkerson mother of Shelly FreyShelly Frey, a 27 year old girl was shot to death by a Houston Walmart security guard. Let’s cut through all the journalistic niceties and just admit: she had been shoplifting. That is the worst thing you can say about her—we know this because that is what Walmart and the cop are saying about her. I understand that in Texas they take crime very seriously: executing the mentally retarded and all that. But this? Death without due process for shoplifting?

Shelly Frey was with two friends: Tisa Andrews and Yolanda Craig. They were in their car when moonlighting Harris County Sheriff Louis Campbell opened the car door and told them to get out. Tisa Andrews was driving. She put it in reverse. Details are sketchy here, but you can see, if this happened, Campbell would have been hit by the door. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland calls this “trying to run him over.” Regardless, he didn’t get hit. But I guess we are supposed to think that he was so frightened that he shot at the car as it raced away. He managed to hit Frey in the neck, killing her.

I don’t even know what to say about this case. The photo above is of Shelly Frey’s mother. I think that speaks more eloquently than I ever could. This is an outrage and I feel very certain that nothing will happen to Officer Campbell. In the end, it will all be totally justified. For now, he’s getting three paid days off.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Death Penalty for Shoplifting

  1. That seems to be a case where maybe attempting to shoot the tires out might be appropriate, if the items stolen suggest grand larceny. But shooting fleeing shoplifters in the back is always wrong.

  2. @JoyfulA – Yeah. Awful people are always quoting "eye for an eye." But a life for a package of meat? A shirt?

    And isn’t shooting a gun in a public place the [i]last[/i] thing you should do? Couldn’t you, perhaps, miss and kill someone who wasn’t even suspected of shoplifting? Isn’t the real threat this idiot with a gun?

  3. Grim, gruesome addition that’s currently headline news here in Minnesota:

    What’s even worse: to find a a link I to that story I could copy/post, I typed "teenagers shot Minnesota" into Yahoo’s search engine. As soon as I finished pressing the "t" of "shot", Yahoo suggested ten search options. Apparently people are shooting people everywhere.

    There is simply no reason for anyone to own a handgun. If you want to kill and eat a deer, you do it with a rifle. If you’re defending your home, you use a shotgun (although a baseball bat would be just as effective.)

    I once met a retired Sheriff from Harney County, Oregon. (About the size of Rhode Island and the population of Antarctica.) His job was essentially breaking up bar fights and wife-beatings. He said he NEVER carried a gun; that would amp up the situation among locals who tended to be gun nuts. 40 years he had that job, 40 years he had guns back at the police HQ if he needed to go get them, and in 40 years he never used a gun. Not once.

  4. @JMF – This is very much like the Joe Horn shooting. Apart from the guns (and I agree with everything you said), there are some people who have so vilified criminals that they gleefully kill them. What I’ve found is that most crime is the result of desperation not villainy. The irony is that this attitude toward criminals is evil as seen with Byron Smith and Joe Horn. In fact, I think both men show signs of psychopathy.


    Also: 2nd degree murder? One of those cases is clearly 1st degree murder.

  5. Holy shit — that audio is just terrifying.

    I went through a brief phase 20 years or so ago where I owned a gun. I was quite happy to get rid of it because the culture absolutely spooked me out. When I went into gun shops to buy ammo or parts the proprietors seemed eager to have a reason to shoot someone; talking about "home defense" made them excited, justified their owning a deadly weapon.

    Not that owning a gun makes one psychotic, of course. Yet the ease of gun ownership in this country makes disturbed people far more dangerous. When you own a gun, you have a five-pound tool in your hands that could kill yourself or someone else very easily. It’s a shocking awareness. I understand how some people regard that awareness, and their choice not to do evil with it, as a sort of "freedom." It’s not the sort of freedom that should be allowed to anyone, no more than the freedom to detonate a nuclear weapon on your neighbor’s farm.

  6. @JMF – I agree. I remember when I was in college going with a friend to look at some car wheels he was thinking of buying from someone in the paper. The guy spent most of the time talking about his guns and how he would "protect his house." The implication was that we were going to come back and steal the wheels. We just thought he was a loon and left without buying them, hoping we never saw the guy again.

    Of course, I have a totally different perspective. I don’t think how someone is going to try to kill me. I think about how someone (maybe myself) is going to kill me [i]accidentally[/i]. As it is, I always drain knives and forks facing down. I understand that getting shot is probably a better way to go than being beaten with a baseball bat. But you aren’t going to be accidentally beaten with a baseball bat.

    Did you hear about this story where a 7-year-old was shot to death by his father outside a gun shop?

    I think people need to wake up to the fact that there really isn’t an army of evil people coming to take your shit. And face it: if there were such an army, there’s not a hell of lot you could do. We depend upon civilization.

    (Have you seen any of those survivalist reality shows? Very scary.)

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