Mom Shot for Shoplifting Didn't Deserve to Die

That's Criminal 37

Shelly Frey
There is a time and a place for excessive force, when a police officer is justified in drawing a weapon and killing an individual who is a clear threat. Shelly Frey was not one of them. The mother of two was fatally shot in the parking lot of a Houston Walmart on Thursday by an off-duty deputy who worked the security detail as a side gig. Suspecting Frey of shoplifting, he confronted her and her two accomplices, Tiasa Andrews and Yolanda Craig, and chased the trio into the parking lot. Things got ugly and Frey is now dead.

Louis Campbell is a 26-year veteran of the force. Houston is not anybody’s Mayberry, so I’m sure he’s seen the worst that violence and debauchery has to offer. Nearly three decades of service has given him more than enough time to hone his judgment and intuition, which is probably why he sniffed the three women out in the first place. But shooting into Frey’s car -- where two small children were riding in the backseat -- and hitting her in the neck was over the top. Walmart merchandise is hardly worth a life.

If he indeed felt threatened when he was standing in between the car door and the driver’s seat, as he says he did, reacting at that point would’ve been one thing. But I question how he could’ve felt unsafe when she peeled out and was driving away. Even then, I agree with Frey’s mother: putting a bullet in a tire to disable the car seems like a more appropriate action than flexing his shoot-to-kill training like she was a hardened criminal.

Her poor parents, disillusioned as parents often are, are devastated. Her father, Shelton Frey, told the local news, “Shelly was the perfect mom, perfect friend, perfect daughter.” Clearly, she wasn’t perfect. But she was a person, she was obviously loved, and she deserved the chance to live and rectify her mistakes rather than be killed in the process of making them. Campbell took that away, and her family -- and her two kids, including a two-year-old baby with sickle cell anemia -- are grieving the death of young woman who was only 27. She was doing wrong, but it wasn’t worth her life.

When I was 15, I went through a phase when I was a shoplift-aholic. I started with makeup and progressed to stuffed animals, clothes, and CDs. It was an adrenaline rush -- albeit a crappy one -- and to top it all off, I was good at it. I never worked my five-finger discounting at Walmart, but I eventually got caught, got it together, and grew up to be a productive member of society. Thank God nobody saw fit to snuff me out in the process. I don’t doubt Frey could’ve made the same kind of turnaround.

Guess we’ll never know and I guess, in the grand tradition of snap judgments and trigger-happy justice, this killing will be justified and forgotten like the thousands that came before and will undoubtedly be the subject of news stories in the future. It’s sad, and it’s sad how vehemently she’s being badmouthed in the wake of what this is -- a tragedy. She’s not perfect, but clearly most of the rest of us are.

Do you think the officer did the right thing?  


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Austin Keenan

No of course he didn't if things are as described.

However,  she is ultimately responsible for creating a high risk situation with unpredictable results.   Assuming that people are always go to respond in a measured way is a huge mistake.

nonmember avatar Jane

If he's between the car door and the driver's seat and she's driving off, how exactly is he supposed to shoot the tire?
Having known officers who were severely injured when suspects drove off pinning them in similar positions, as I am sure he did, he was endangered. She created the situation, and she continued to try and drive off rather than face the shoplifting consequences

dirti... dirtiekittie

sometimes we have a fraction of a second to make a decision. i would hope that if the cop did shoot into the car, it truly was because he was fearful for his own safety. if you read the original article, you'll see that this woman was also banned from wal-mart stores as part of a plea bargain for a previous case of shoplifting. while i don't think that her death was the correct course of action, you can't help but think she had a hand in her own fate. if she had followed the rules of her probation, this would have never happened. 

Flori... Floridamom96

Cop put himslf in danger and this woman paid the price. Harris County law enforcement has a well deserved bad reputation for its treatment of African Americans. Perhaps I should say mistreatment.

three... threeforme157

Yikes, I wonder if she was stealing make up...  The way I see it is we make our own way through this life, the choices we make lead to our destiny.  If you are breaking a law which then ultimately leads to your demise then that is your problem.  

If you have worked retail and especially security then you know that these pieces of trash thrives will do anything to get away with it including running you down in the parking lot.  

Also, I really doubt if she was the perfect mom considering she dragged her kids along with her to commit a crime.

sugar... sugarmansmom

Wow I really cannot believe some of these responses.  According to the original article, she was on probabtion for shoplifting a couple of shirts and a package of meat.  She was NOT armed.  Sure she should not have been stealing, but under NO circumstances should theft warrant justification for MURDER.  Floridamom-this is the second article I've read today where I find myself agreeing with you (the other was the parents being charged for exercising their right to take their baby to another hospital)-is the sky falling?

Billsfan, I'm not sure if you meant for that to sound as facetious as it does, but my god woman.  

three... threeforme157

Thieves, darn auto correct.

lulou lulou

A criminal (with innocent kids in the car) is trying to speed off, in what could have been a crowded parking lot, the officer  most likely had more than his life to worry about.

dirti... dirtiekittie

@threeforme - they actually weren't her kids in the car (someone else's), but i agree with your statement all the same. 

for those defending that she was unarmed - i wouldn't disagree with a single one of you. however, let's all acknowledge that had she honored the terms of her plea bargain, she would have never even been there that night. that onus is on her, even if it resulted in her untimely death.

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