Hold Harris County and Walmart Accountable for Killing Alleged Shoplifter

  • by: Susan V
  • recipient: Harris Co. Texas Sheriff's Dept and Walmart

Suspected of shoplifting, Shelly Frey, was shot dead by a security guard at a Houston Walmart. Allegations that she was trying to get away in a car do not excuse his use of deadly force. Even less excusable is the fact that the guard is a 26-year veteran of Harris Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Campbell said the car had “accelerated away” just as he opened the door. So he fired into the moving car that also carried two small children.

The sheriff’s dept. claims Campbell fired out of “fear for his life.” Walmart, even after this second shooting over shoplifting, gave it’s typical corporate response.

According to her family, Frey moved to Houston after Katrina to start a new life, but her ability to work was hindered by her daughter’s illness. Now her children have lost their mother.

Setting aside the circumstances that make this incident so tragic, there is never an excuse to shoot anyone over shoplifting. Both Harris Co. and Walmart should be held accountable.

We, the undersigned, find no excuse for this fatal shooting, particularly by a veteran sheriff’s deputy dealing with a nonviolent alleged crime.

Friends and family, who have more right to be outraged than anyone, very reasonably noted that the deputy could have shot the tires of the car. And as other comments noted, he could have gotten the car’s license plate and initiated an investigation. There are so many things a trained officer could and should have done to properly handle this situation in order to prevent such a tragedy. Even worse is that he shot into a moving car with children inside, not knowing where the bullet would hit.

The explanation Harris Co. Sheriff dept. spokesman gave for the shooting makes no sense. He says the officer shot into the car, afraid the car would run over him, but Frey, whom he killed, wasn’t driving. Furthermore, shooting a driver could send a car out of control and kill a number of people.

Walmart’s cold response, particularly considering this is the second such incident in less than a month, is equally unacceptable:

'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.' 

Walmart should take responsibility for being aware of any codes of conduct of “off-duty officers” working at their stores and NOT HIRE those who are allowed to use the kind of deadly force that Harris County’s code of conduct either allows or makes excuses for.

Harris County should either fire Campbell or fix its “code of conduct,” if it allows the action Campbell took. Walmart should put human life ahead of profits.

Thank you for your time.

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