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No charges one year after Black Friday pepper spray incident

November 14, 2012 |  7:28 am
Wal-Mart

No charges have been filed one year after a woman was arrested for allegedly blasting Black Friday shoppers with pepper spray at a San Fernando Valley Wal-Mart store, officials said.

Authorities have yet to say whether they believe Elizabeth Macias, 33, acted in self-defense or if she used the spray to gain a competitive advantage over other shoppers in seeking to grab deeply discounted video games at the Porter Ranch store.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office said no decision had been made regarding charges against Macias. City prosecutors have had the case since last December, when the Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined without comment to file felony charges.

Before presenting their case to prosecutors last year, Los Angeles police detectives interviewed more than a dozen witnesses and examined store security footage, as well as videos posted on YouTube.

Nearly two dozen people, including children, suffered nose and throat irritation when a crowd standing in line waiting for the video games and gaming consoles to go on sale suddenly rushed the display area, shouting and ripping at the plastic wrap encasing them.

"People started screaming, pulling and pushing each other, and then the whole area filled up with pepper spray," Alejandra Seminario told The Times. "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."

Amid the pandemonium, Macias made a purchase and fled the scene but later turned herself in to police, according to investigators. LAPD detectives did not rule out that Macias used pepper spray in self-defense.

LAPD officials said at the time of Macias' arrest that their investigation hinged on "the suspect's state of mind at the time the incident took place," including whether she deployed the spray because "she was in fear for her safety."

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Follow Andrew Blankstein on Twitter and Google+.

Photo: No charges have been filed against a woman who used pepper spray while shopping on Black Friday 2011 at Wal-Mart, pictured in this file photo. Credit: Seth Perlman / Associated Press

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