No felony charges in Wal-Mart pepper-spray case
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has declined to file felony charges against the woman accused of attacking 20 Wal-Mart customers with pepper spray during a Black Friday shopping frenzy.
Instead, they have referred the case against Elizabeth Macias, 32, of the San Fernando Valley, to city prosecutors for possible misdemeanor prosecution.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the specifics of the case, including whether Macias acted in self-defense or if she used the spray to gain a competitive advantage versus other shoppers in her quest to grab video games that had just gone on sale.
She turned herself in to authorities within days of the incident but declined to answer questions about her involvement at a Porter Ranch Wal-Mart store. She was not taken into custody.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene to The Times. At least 20 people, including children, suffered nose and throat irritation.
Alejandra Seminario, 24, said she was waiting in line to grab some toys at the store when people in the next aisle started shouting and ripping at the plastic wrap encasing gaming consoles.
"People started screaming, pulling and pushing each other, and then the whole area filled up with pepper spray," the Sylmar resident said. "I guess what triggered it was people started pulling the plastic off the pallets and then shoving and bombarding the display of games. It started with people pushing and screaming because they were getting shoved onto the boxes."
LAPD detectives said It's possible she believed she was using the pepper spray in self-defense.
"I'm not saying it was right. It could have been a situation that she was in fear for her safety, that she would be crushed," said LAPD Det. Mike Fesperman. "It (this case) comes down to whether it was a matter of self-preservation or she was trying to gain access to the games."
Detectives interviewed more than a dozen witnesses and also examined store security footage as well as videos posted on YouTube.
— Andrew Blankstein
Photo: The Porter Ranch Wal-Mart on Friday. Credit: Andrew Blankstein / Los Angeles Times