“She Tried to Give Me All the Money She Had. It was about $1.25”

In December 2014, Tarrant, Alabama, police officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General store on Highway 79 — a woman had allegedly attempted to shoplift a dozen eggs. Officer Stacy said, “When I got there, I made contact with the lady that was suspected of stealing.” As a police officer, he had once been called to the woman’s house, and he knew that she was impoverished and having a hard time taking care of her children. He said, “It was just a small glimpse into her life. It was enough to make an impression on me.” Mr. Stacy paid for the eggs, and Dollar General management decided not to press charges against the woman. Mr. Stacy said about the woman, “She tried to give me all the money she had. It was about $1.25. I told her the best way to pay me back was to never do something like that again.” A customer at the store recorded the good deed without Mr. Stacy being aware of it. He said, “The manager came up and told me later. It didn’t bother me. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.” The customer posted the video on Facebook, and it went viral. Mr. Stacy said, “My phone was blowing up with notifications and texts.” He added, “I was pleasantly surprised that something good came out of me getting a phone call on a Sunday, instead of something bad.” Some of his fellow officers even started calling him “Hollywood” for a while because of all the attention the video was getting. Mr. Stacy said, “After all the stuff that’s been going on all over the U.S. with law enforcement officers [an apparent referent to police in 2014 being accused of brutality and murder in such places as Ferguson, Missouri], this is a positive uplifting story. I’m just one out of hundreds of thousands [of police officers who] do this on a daily basis.” The woman whom Officer Stacy helped is Helen Johnson, who shares a small apartment with five other people: a niece, two daughters, and two young grandchildren. She said that they “ate from day to day,” and that when she went to the store her grandchildren had not eaten in two days: “I actually thought that if I didn’t feed those babies, they were going to die.” She needed 50 more cents to buy a dozen eggs at the store, so she decided to shoplift. She said, “I had no idea anybody was watching me. I thought I was smooth as a criminal, and so I put three eggs in my jacket pocket.” She said that she appreciates what Officer Stacy did for her: “He did something he didn’t have to do. He just bought me eggs. Any time you see the police, you’re always afraid you’ve done something wrong, and they’re after you and they’re about to get you.” She added, “This man — he pushed my world in the right direction, and I will never forget it.” People rallied around Ms. Johnson by donating food, and Officer Stacy delivered two truckloads of groceries to home. He said, “I don’t like the spotlight being on me, I just did my job — serve and protect my community. I feel like this video has made a huge, positive impact for the image of all law enforcement officers all over the United States. We’re not all crooked individuals looking to beat up or kill somebody. That’s not what we swore to do. That’s not why I wear this badge everyday.” Officer Stacy remembered, “She started crying. She said, ‘I need help. I need help, Officer Stacy. I need to put food in my babies’ stomachs.’ That’s what got me. That’s what hit me the hardest. I told her [to] park on the side of the parking lot, I ran in, bought the carton of eggs, came back outside, handed them to her and she got very emotional, very apologetic.”

For More Information: “Tarrant officer’s good deed goes viral.” WIAT (Birmingham, Alabama). 8 December 2014


For More Information: “Alabama woman feels ‘blessed’ by cop’s good deed.” CBS News. 10 December 2014


For More Information: “Good Deed: Cop Donates Groceries To Struggling Grandmother Caught Shoplifting Eggs To Feed Family.” CBS. 12 December 2014


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