Still no charges in Wal-Mart Black Friday pepper spray incident
Nearly a year after a woman was arrested for allegedly blasting shoppers with pepper spray during a Black Friday shopping frenzy at a San Fernando Valley Wal-Mart store, no charges have been filed in the case, authorities said.
Authorities have yet to say whether 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 outlet.
The Los Angeles city attorney's office said that no formal decision has been made whether to charge 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 also 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 into 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."
-- Andrew Blankstein
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