No Felony Charges For Walmart Pepper Sprayer

There will be no felony charges filed against the shopper who sprayed her fellow shoppers with pepper spray during a Black Friday sales event two weeks ago. The pepper spraying incident occurred at a Walmart in the affluent Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

When this story first broke, it appeared to be the perfect symbol of Black Friday craziness. It was widely reported that a woman trying to get her hands on a discounted Xbox 360 sprayed shoppers to back them away from the product, so she grab one for herself. Even the Los Angeles Police Department described her as a “competitive shopper.” The woman got away in the confusion.

But that same evening, she turned herself in to the Los Angeles police. Though she refused to answer questions, other witnesses were interviewed. Surveillance tapes were studied. And a different story began to emerge.

Four days after Black Friday, police investigators introduced the idea that she may have pepper sprayed shoppers in self-defense. Michael Fesperman, an LA police detective, said “There was no control. People were getting stampeded and trampled. There were people screaming, yelling that they were being trampled or crushed.”

It now appears that the police have decided the woman, identified as 32-year-old Elizabeth Macias, acted out of fear rather than aggression. No evidence of a felony was found, said county prosecutors. However, Macias may still face misdemeanor charges.

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Faroh Sauder has spent more than 30 years working as a journalist and educator. He has written on politics, international affairs, civil rights, and consumer education. Now mostly retired, Faroh continues to stay current on tech and consumer issues and reports on his interests here at News For Shoppers.