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Black mother of two shot dead by Walmart security guard for suspected shoplifting

Warning: Stealing from Walmart can get you killed.

Last week, an off-duty Houston police officer shot and killed Sherry Frey, a 27-year-old black mother of two, for suspected shoplifting at a North Houston Walmart.

According to police, it all started when Deputy Louis Campbell, who worked an extra job as a Walmart security guard, was told by two Walmart employees that Shelly and her friends were stuffing merchandise into their purses. When Campbell confronted them at the store’s exit, police say one of the women hit him with her purse and ran. Campbell chased them into the parking lot and held their car door open to stop them from leaving, but the driver sped off, at which point Campbell fired at the car, striking Shelly Frey in the neck. She died shortly thereafter at a nearby apartment complex.

Police have unsurprisingly tried to pin blame on the victim, saying that when the car sped off, Campbell fired his gun out of fear for his life because the women were trying to run him over. Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, Deputy Thomas Gilliband, said, “[The Driver] threw it in reverse and tried to run over the deputy” which “knocked him off balance and, in fear of his life and being ran over, he discharged his weapon at that point.” Gilliband also highlighted that one of the women hit Campbell with her purse when he tried to stop her at the store’s exit, as though being hit with a purse is somehow equivalent to shooting indiscriminately into a car. This translates into, “these (black) women are violent theives and got what they deserved.” And it’s not like gunfire is a disproportionate law enforcement response to the crime of shoplifting, an offense apparently punishable by death.

What the spokesperson didn’t mention is that there were two small children in the backseat, though its still unclear whether the officer saw them when he was forcing the car door open.

As for the two women who survived the shooting, both have been charged with crimes: Tiasa Andrews with robbery and assault of a public servant (I’m not sure if this is for purse hitting or the car door thing) and Yolanda Craig, with robbery.

Deputy Campbell, who’s been with the department for 26 years, is on three days paid leave, which ABC News reports is standard protocol. Meanwhile, the case is being investigated  by the Harris County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, Office of the Inspector General and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and will be reviewed by a grand jury.

Thus far, this story has barely registered in the media. As of this writing, a Google search of “Shelly Frey” resulted in just eight news stories. And only one of them humanizes the victim.

KHOU-TV took the time to speak with Frey’s family:

“Shelly was the perfect mom, perfect friend, perfect daughter,” said her father, Shelton Frey.

Frey said the 27-year-old mother of two had moved to Houston after Hurricane Katrina to start a new life. He said she was limited by how much she could work because of a 2-year-old girl with sickle cell anemia.

After a cousin called to tell them what happened, Frey’s parents drove straight from New Orleans.

The parents said they were never contacted by investigators and that they were not allowed to see their daughter’s body. She was the oldest of three children.

“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep—I just need to know,” her mother Sharon Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said she also needs to know why the deputy took the shot he did.

“Why couldn’t you just shoot the tire, shoot the window?” she asked. “Was it that serious?”

Even if her daughter did commit a crime, Wilkerson said she did not deserve to die—or for her two young grandchildren to lose their mother.

“How do I tell these children she’s not coming back?” she asked.

This is heartbreaking and deserves way more attention than it’s getting. It also raises some serious questions about Walmart’s security policies. For example, does the company often hire police officers to guard it’s stores? Are police departments cool with that? What are Walmart’s “use of force” policies for their security team? Are police subject to Walmart’s guidelines when working security? or do they follow their department’s rules and regulations?

Walmart responded to the shooting with the following statement, which I believe raises even more questions:

“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.”

  1. Bk #

    Why was he carrying a gun at all?

    December 10, 2012
    • Good question. Probably because of all the super scary not-white people in the neighborhood. (Just speculation, but I have never seen armed security in suburban stores in restaurants, meanwhile the McDonalds just around the corner from a city school near where I used to work always had one.)

      December 11, 2012
    • Frank Simpson #

      Here we go again, blame the cop who was defending his life from being ran over! Stealing is a crime, period! Not only was she caught stealing, but did so with two children with her! This is why white people distrust black people! Over 75% of black men under 40 years of age have a criminal record! Over 75% of black children are born out of wedlock! It is OK to steal if you want something! If you are black, just take it! Whitey will pay for it!

      Where are the black people who will speak out against this behavior? The problem is the way they are raised. No sense of moral character !

      December 12, 2012
      • Frankly, I don’t know I’d trust an adult who didn’t have a criminal record. As to children born out of wedlock–how is my bedroom any of the state’s bizniz?

        December 12, 2012
      • Christie #

        Frank Simpson, In reply to your rude comment, Shelly was not caught stealing contrary to what the story initially reported and the children were not hers, but those of the driver ( Shelly was the passenger). Also, she was not born out of wedlock!! And speaking of moral character, she was raised in a decent, classy family. I guess you have never made poor judgement calls. Don’t throw stones while living in a glass house.!

        December 13, 2012
      • Jayla j. #

        U have issue dude. I am black and have never done any of the above with a college degree and a mother of two. Ur mentality of what u think about black people is hateful and u need Jesus in your life. Where I stay at theirs just as many white people having children’s out of wedlock and doing stupid things. Color has nothing to do with what people do or how they act. U need to grow up and worry about if your going to he’ll for being so hateful!!!!! I feel sorry for people like you

        December 13, 2012
      • Dennis Scott #

        Frank you are an asshole that’s like saying all white people are serial killers and are moonshine drinking daughter raping racist cocksuckers

        December 14, 2012
      • democommie #


        You’re a bigoted piece of shit. I mean there is apparently a lot of other shit wrong with you, but hatin’ on teh blackpeople seems to be your default.

        December 15, 2012
  2. Alan #

    i’m not American so i’m not familiar with US laws but it is surprising that the one woman has been charged with assault on a “public servant”. is a security guard considered a public servant? would an off duty police officer be wearing his official uniform? if he was off duty and working in his private capacity then surely he cannot be considered a public servant at the time. Secondly, if off duty police officers are authorised to act as a police officer surely that implies that Walmart has a private police force in their employ.

    December 10, 2012
    • Gerry #

      It depends on his sworn status. If he was an active and not reserve officer/deputy then he would be considered a police officer even while on another job. He would have also had to announce himself as such at some point during the altercation. I’m no lawyer but this is my understanding of full time active police officers. This would also explain why he had his weapon.

      December 10, 2012
  3. Thank you for reporting Rania! Appreciate the work you do!

    December 10, 2012
  4. Helen chapman #

    Police officers normally work for retail stores willing to pay $80 an hour to the county, usually just over the Christmas holidays. No, the officer only makes about $27 an hour. The rest goes to his command. [figuring this on the normal rate of $15 an hour for a deputy here] They carry a gun and wear their uniform usually. Standard procedure is to wait until the person is at the door to the store then confront. They are not supposed to arrest on their own, unless the person surrenders. All this cop had to do was get the tag number and call it in. You can’t outrun the radio.

    December 10, 2012
  5. Unbelievable. Sad. Unjustifiable-this behavior of just shooting whenever the victim is not white as if somehow that is justification for it being acceptable to shoot. I so do not get it.

    December 11, 2012
  6. Stuart #

    Would media attention not make it worse for the family?

    December 11, 2012
    • Oh yeah, I know I’d be horrified if the media actually called out a sociopath for gunning down my kid.

      December 11, 2012
  7. How terrible – I hope he faces life in prison.

    December 11, 2012
    • Frank Simpson #

      The women with her should be arrested too! This type of behavior from black people just fan the flames of racism! How about this: Don’t steal and you wont be shot!

      December 12, 2012
      • So it’s come to this?: Property is more valuable than human life? Houston sounds like a real Mecca for capitalists–no ambiguity, just raw commercialism and corporations grinding the poor beneath its heel.

        December 12, 2012
      • Stealing is not a good thing – yet how often are thieves shot? And where?

        December 23, 2012
  8. henry #

    Frank you are an ask!!! Your true stupidity shows.

    December 13, 2012
  9. It is Not a Good thing to Give Police Officers Overtime(Moonlighting) Jobs … They are Overtired … Love the $ , But Have No Patience … I know this day and age they carry Tazers! I was Robbed and they did knew who did it , did nothing to them , But when I kept asking for a Report They arrested me ! THIS IS SO.FLORIDA .. My Alarm went off and the Daily Log states … NO SUCH ADDRESS ! … I HATE COPS !!! I am Sick for this Family to be without their Mom ! God Rest you .. you only tried to have a Nice Holiday with your Children … I BOYCOTT WALMART … for they are the Largest Welfare Recipients … Prays from florida

    December 14, 2012
    • Christie Mathieu #

      Thank you Carl Love!!

      December 15, 2012
  10. Erin #

    Maybe the issue of racism would be taken out if it was just reported as mother of two instead of black mother of two. Or it could be written black mother of two shot by black deputy. Unfortunately, it just comes down to a very tragic decision. She was not right to steal but human life should value more than property.

    February 18, 2013
  11. Security guards nationally aren’t allowed to use excessive force under any curcumstances. Only under circumstances where a person’s life is in jeopardy. If you ask me, the securtiy guard should be charged with manslaughter. The altercation with him getting battered by a purse in the mall parking lot made the officers “blood boil”, which pertains to manslaughter, which led to the eventual murder of the shoplifter.

    February 28, 2013
  12. Security guards nationally aren’t allowed to use excessive force under any curcumstances. Only under circumstances where a person’s life is in jeopardy. If you ask me, the securtiy guard should be charged with manslaughter. The altercation with him getting battered by a purse in the mall parking lot made the officers “blood boil”, which pertains to manslaughter, which led to the eventual murder of the shoplifter

    February 28, 2013
  13. jose #

    There are tooo many officer involved shoo

    March 4, 2013
  14. jose #

    There are tooo many officer invovled shootings and killings. When are we the people going to start protecting ourselves against the people who are suppose to protect us. Im not to fond of black people either but they are human and its us the people against the police. When officers get killed it is part of thejob, they know what is at risk but they have no dignity or on there in their work. if there is good police officers out there why don’t you put the dirty or crooked police officers awaY. they should be held accountable and get the maximum penalty because they are trusted with the law in their hands and violate it. F@ck the police.

    March 4, 2013
  15. rk #

    Sherry Frey was NOT shot because of shoplifting. Deputy Campbell attempted to detain and possibly arrest her and her cohorts because of shoplifting. Rather than surrendering and accepting responsibility for their actions the ladies chose to escalate the situation by assaulting him and attempting to flee.

    Deputy Campbell then attempted to apprehend them. Tiasa Andrews escalated this situation to deadly force, not by just driving away but by driving away while the officer was in the process of apprehending her, pinning him between the car door and the car. If he let go he would be knocked to the ground and likely run over. He reacted as trained and drew his gun to stop the immediate threat to his life.

    Some of you will say the officer unnecessarily put himself in this position. Some will insist that the woman was killed for shoplifting. This would be like a person not paying parking tickets and the police come to arrest him; he starts shooting at the police and they return fire, killing him. Then along you come and say someone was killed for not paying parking tickets and it’s the officers fault for putting themselves in that position.

    It is unfortunate that Ms Frey was killed. Although she was a dirt bag (banned from Wal-Mart for previous shoplifting) this does not warrant death. Unfortunately for her she was an accomplice of Ms Andrews (who should have been the one to die) and therefore culpable, much the same as if you’re the getaway driver for a bank robbery where someone is murdered, you are also culpable.

    Rania Khalek, your agenda shows through in your yellow journalism. The driver did not just “sped off” but sped off with the officer in the door of the car. And your “translation” as to Deputy Gellibrand’s statement is ludicrous. You also failed to mention the Deputies race while emphasizing the perpetrators.

    The real problem with journalism is that most people’s opinions are based on their emotions rather than fact. Journalists have an agenda and that is to promote their opinions, based on their emotions. You are exactly the same, although less capable of hiding your agenda. Try taking a class in logic.

    March 15, 2013
  16. suzy #

    cant believe some of the racist comments here against black people, do you not think crime is committed by all races not just black, some of you need to grow up and look outside and take off your rose tinted glasses, but then again all white people are seriel killers, paedos and into incest arent they….. pffffff

    April 6, 2013
  17. Ben There Dun That #

    I really prefer this type of story when there is video. Then I have some idea who’s (the most) at fault.

    Often, on ones with video, my reaction is that the world would be a better place if all the folks involved just went away and left us permanently. The cops, the perps, the victims.

    According to reports, every person in these situations was a wonderful gentle soul. So the cop who would never hurt (ignore the ex wife’s restraining order) a fly shoots the sweet church goer (who for some reason has been convicted 27 times).

    A piece of practical advice: Man’s got a gun, you either neutralize him (disarm, kill, get out of range, etc.), or you do what he says. You make him mad, killing you is as easy as pointing and making a fist. Doesn’t matter if he’s a cop, a crook, or your nasty relative. Yelling, throwing sh*t, driving off with him on the door, is NOT a good idea.

    April 8, 2013
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