KAUFMAN, TEXAS - A police officer in Kaufman is now facing an internal investigation after he showed some goodwill to a shoplifting suspect.
According to Kaufman Police, that officer responded to a call Wednesday at Wal-Mart, where a male suspect was detained inside for trying to steal some food and a drink.
Officials say the suspect told the officer he had not eaten in two days and stole the items because he was hungry.
The officer, a veteran of the department for five years, let the man off with a warning -- and provided him with some cash out of his own pocket so he could buy something to eat.
WFAA has chosen not to name this officer, but Kelsey Stevens is his daughter. She told us that her father, a former Marine of nine years, was just trying to help the man out.
“He didn’t rob anyone at gunpoint, he was a young guy who was literally hungry,” Stevens said. “It was a turkey leg, a Gatorade, and that was it.”
But when Stevens’ dad returned to the station, officials say an argument unfolded about the incident.
Wal-Mart wanted to press theft charges, and Stevens’ dad disagreed. The department says an allegation of insubordination followed when a superior officer asked the officer why charges weren’t filed.
A press release from the department says Stevens’ father was relieved of duty until an internal investigation could be completed.
Stevens told WFAA that her father wasn’t treated fairly.
“I think that his character says more about him than this one discrepancy does,” Stevens said.
Wal-Mart declined to comment to WFAA about the incident.
In its press release, Kaufman Police said if a victim of a crime requests to press charges—the station is obligated to do so.
The department even said it commended Stevens’ father for his act of kindness and added that he is solely under investigation for what happened after he returned to the station.
Stevens still thinks her dad did the right thing.
“He told me if he feels what he’s doing is morally right—then he is going to stand up for that…even if it’s at his own risk,” she said.
The officer's lawyer, Zach Horn, sent WFAA a statement later Thursday night about the incident, saying his client, "is one of the absolute best law enforcement has to offer."
"He embodies everything we want and ask for in a public servant. We should celebrate his compassion and kindness, especially as the holidays approach."
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