Elizabeth Shirey is the Aiken, South Carolina, woman officials say assaulted a young black girl after accusing the child of stealing her mail. The 11-year-old girl, Skhylur Davis, was retrieving her grandmother’s mail when Shirey approached her near the mailbox on May 11.
Davis says Shirey apologized and offered the child cookies after realizing her mistake. At some point, Shirey’s husband got involved. Davis explained that even though no racial slurs were used, she felt the incident was racially motivated because of a comment Mr. Shirey said. “Her husband said, ‘If you were a different type of person, this would have been another story,'” Davis said during a news conference alongside her attorney.
Davis’ grandmother, Alice Patterson, called the police after learning of the incident. Shirey has been charged with a misdemeanor and is due in court on July 15.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Davis Said She & Three Others Were Standing Near Shirey’s Mailbox But Never Touched It
Patterson has been living at her current home in Aiken for about a year. She told the Augusta Chronicle she often sends her granddaughter to grab the mail from the mailbox.
On May 11, Davis was accompanied by her sister and two cousins. All four of them are juveniles. Davis told police that after picking up her grandmother’s mail, she and the other three children walked along Whitemarsh Drive and paused near another mailbox. She told WACH-TV, “The mailbox was behind me… I wasn’t touching it or anything and I turn around and this lady is coming towards me and assaults me.”
Davis told police Shirey approached her aggressively and demanded her mail back. According to the Aiken Public Safety report, “The victim was caught off guard and told Ms. Shirey the mail was not hers. The victim stated Ms. Shirey attempted to grab the mail away from her and in the process, grabbed her by the arms and pulled them.”
Davis said after Shirey realized the mail was not hers, she apologized and “offered to make it better by offering cookies.”
2. Shirey Told Police She Initially Thought Davis Was an Adult & Called Out ‘Ma’am’ Before Approaching Her
According to the incident report from Aiken Public Safety, Shirey told the responding officer that she was inside her home when she spotted someone standing near her mailbox. She originally thought the person standing outside was an adult.
Shirey said she tried yelling “Ma’am” but did not get a response. According to the report, “she then walked towards the person while asking if the person was holding her mail.” Shirey admitted she tried to grab the mail away before realizing it did not belong to her. She noticed the address on the mail was not her own.
Shirey said only then did she realize the person was a child and attempted to apologize. The police report lists her husband, Justin Shirey, as an involved individual. But the summary of the incident only stated that Mr. Shirey had been “rude” to Davis and her friends.
3. The Police Report Does Not Mention Race But Davis Says She Feels the Shireys Judged Her Because Of Her Skin Color
The Aiken Public Safety incident report does not mention race. Above the narrative, there is a line that reads “Suspect Hate/Bias Motivated:” The responding officer left that section blank.
Davis told police that Shirey’s husband had approached the group and was “rude” to them. She explained during a news conference on May 19, alongside attorney Justin Bamberg, that Mr. Shirey’s involvement made her think the encounter was race-related. “When we were explaining that we didn’t take the mail, the husband said that if you were a different type of guy, this would have been another story. You don’t have to think about what type means,” WJBF-TV reported.
Davis’ grandmother, Alice Patterson was also part of the news conference. She explained, “We’re hurt, we’re upset, and we’re angry. She’s angry and hurt. She was violated. Growing up in the South, we had to endure this. Our parents had to endure this. It’s 2020, we will not have our children go through what we had to go through.”
4. Shirey Is Charged With Assault & Battery
Shirey is facing a charge of assault and battery in the 3rd degree. In South Carolina, this charge is classified as a “simple assault” misdemeanor and described in the legal code:
A person commits the misdemeanor offense of assault and battery in the third degree if the person unlawfully injures another person, or offers or attempts to injure another person with the present ability to do so. Upon conviction, a person found guilty of assault and battery in the third degree must be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both.
Shirey was not taken into custody. Lt. Jake Mahoney explained to the Aiken Standard that Shirey was not detained because the charge is low-level, and officials are attempting to reduce inmate levels due to the coronavirus. He also told WJBF-TV the decision was made because “the offender was compliant, the offender was positively identified, there was no articulable immediate danger to the victim or to society in general, and no evidence of alcohol or drug impairment.”
Shirey was issued a citation and ordered to appear in court on July 15. As of this writing, the case had not been entered into the Aiken County Second Judicial Circuit Public Index, which is available online.
5. Davis’ Attorney Says the Child Is Aware of the Ahmaud Arbery Case in Georgia & Is ‘Saddened’ That She May Be Judged For Her Skin Color
What is going on in society? We all owe it to our children and the generations to come to do better, be better, and create a better tomorrow than the today we live through…https://t.co/paWxQ2j5oe
— Justin Bamberg, Esq. (@JustinBamberg) May 19, 2020
Davis’ attorney, Justin Bamberg, says the young girl is aware of the shooting death of Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery was shot and killed by two white men while jogging. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael are both charged with murder.
Bamberg explained in a letter to the Augusta Chronicle that Davis is “saddened by the fact people make assumptions about black people just because of the color of their skin and feels Arbery would have been treated different if he was white.” Bamberg also told the newspaper, “We want the criminal justice system in Aiken County to make an example out of Mrs. Shirey to deter other people from doing the same thing again.”
Bamberg further commented on Facebook, “What is going on in society when an 11yr old child cannot get mail for her grandmother without risk of judgment, assault or death? We all owe it to our children and the generations to come to do better, be better, and create a better tomorrow than the today we live through.”
Davis says she was not afraid during the encounter at the mailbox. She told WACH-TV that she hopes Shirey “learns that you can’t do that to people because I’m just as much a human being as you are too. So, this isn’t right.”
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