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Officer put on leave for refusing to arrest hungry man who ate food at Walmart without paying

By Emily Lewis 1:42 PM December 13, 2017
Hungry man (illustration)

A woman came out in defense of her father who is a police officer after he was placed on leave from his job.

Kelsey Stevens said that her father was dispatched to a Walmart in Kaufman, Texas, for a man who was shoplifting.

Workers were holding the suspect down until the officer arrived. Stevens said that the suspect stole a turkey leg and a Gatorade drink.

According to Stevens, when her father spoke with the suspect, he said that he ate the food because he was very hungry as he had not eaten in two days.

“It’s not like he robbed the place at gunpoint,” Stevens said. The officer felt compassion and refused to arrest the hungry man.

Instead, he handed the man money from his own pocket. He issued him a warning citation and allowed him to walk free.

A manager at Walmart filed a complaint with the Kaufman Police Department and the officer, who has not been named, was placed on leave from his job.

Police said in a press release that if a victim of a crime requests to press charges, in this case Walmart, the station is obligated to press charges.

The officer was accused of insubordination after arguing with a superior about why he didn’t press charges, WFAA reported.

According to police, the officer was relieved of his duties while he is under an internal investigation by the department.

In a press release, the Kaufman Police Department wrote that they “applaud the sergeant for the compassion and kindness that he showed for the individual.

“We appreciate the support from our community and we hope that the example of kindness shown by our officer does the same.”

However, they added that if a victim of a crime wants to press charges then the officer must arrest the individual.

Many people took the Facebook to express their disagreement with the department’s decision to relieve the veteran officer from duty.

Gilbert Rodriguez wrote: “Give that man his job back. He risks his life every day to protect his community. Sure there are rules but everyone should exercise discretion in certain circumstances. I respect his decision.”

Leslie Long wrote: “As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I am disgusted with your actions. Shame on you. Pathetic.”

J.b. Hedspeth said: “I have written citations many, many times for shoplifting and larceny, it is usually the OFFICERS discretion to arrest or NOT. The amount or worth of the items are taken factor into this too.

“Walmart throws away a lot of food. I think the police dept. should have backed their officer. The day of the free-thinking police office was over years ago.

“It is USUALLY not up to the victim or complainant to dictate what the officer does or does not do, HE knows the law and what he can do and NOT do.”

Ryan Hall came to the defense of the police department and said: “Having compassion is fine, but there are rules and regulations that you are required to follow as a police officer. Change the setting to someone’s house and you told the officer that you wanted to press charges and the officer ignored you. It’s the same thing, unfortunately.”