rLTThe Michigan Daily - Friday, February 16, 2001- 5
.Family of suspected shoplifter files suit aainst Krogrer
SOUTHFIELD (AP) - The family of a
man who died after Kroger security guards
subdued him has filed a $750 million lawsuit
against the security guards' company and
Kroger Stores Inc.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday, a day after
the Oakland County Medical Examiner's
office ruled that Travis Shelton died of
asphyxia due to compression and classified
the death as a homicide.
Shelton, 38, of Detroit, was allegedly trying
to steal meat from the supermarket in a low-
income community, Royal Oak Township,
bordering Detroit on Feb. 8, when guards
caught and tackled him, authorities said.
Shelton's family's attorney said the action
was unnecessary -
"The Kroger Corporation throws away 20,
30, 40 times more meat that it alleges that
Travis Shelton had put under his jacket,"
Man was allegedly trying to steal meat when
guards subdued him; death ruled a homicide
attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing
Shelton's family, said yesterday.
Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca
said he would decide if a crime was commit-
ted once he received written reports from the
medical examiner and the Oakland County
Gorcyca said he "would not be persuaded"
by the lawsuit filed in Oakland County Circuit
Court against the supermarket and the
William Davis and Associates Security Ser-
"Geoff often makes inflammatory com-
ments that are sometimes not based on factual
accounts," Gorcyca said about Fieger, a well-
known attorney in the Detroit area who has
represented many high-profile cases. "I could
really care less about what Geoff does or
Preliminary tests show Shelton had heart
disease and other health problems and had
cocaine and opiates in his blood when he died.
Officials with the company that employed
two security guards involved in stopping Shel-
ton were not immediately available for com-
Jon Flora, president of Kroger stores in
Michigan, said in a written statement that the
company was working with the sheriff's
department and had no comment while the
case was under investigation.
The case comes after a highly publicized
shoplifting death in the Detroit area. In June,
Frederick Finley, 32, died outside a Lord &
Taylor store in Dearborn after scuffling with
security guards investigating a shoplifting
Guards had acpused Finley's girlfriend's 11-
year-old daughter of shoplifting. Guard Den-
nis Richardson, 29, used a headlock to subdue-
Finley in the store's parking lot.
Richardson is awaiting trial for involuntary
manslaughter. Defense attorneys say Finley
had a heart attack; prosecutors say he suffo-
Finley's death sparked protests, led by
prominent figures such as the Rev. Al Sharp-
ton, against Lord & Taylor. Activists accused
the store of using black security workers to
scrutinize minority shoppers in order to avoid
the appearance of discrimination or racial pro-
filing. Finley was black, as is Richardson.
The two guards at Kroger are black, as was
The Rev. Horace Sheffield III of Ne
Galilee Missionary Baptist Church - v
organized protests in Finley's death - said he
will meet with the president of Kroger today.,
A prayer vigil is set for tonight.
Senate toughens state's rape, fetus laws
LANSING (AP) - Rapists would have a
tougher time eluding the long arm of the law
under legislation approved yesterday in the state
The Senate also passed a measure making it a
felony to cause the death of an embryo or fetus
during an assault on a pregnant woman.
The rape bill, passed 32-0, would extend the
statute of limitations for rape from the present
six years to 10 years, or the victim's 21st birth-
day, whichever is later.
And if DNA evidence is available, the statute
of limitations would not begin running until the
assailant was identified and an indictment was
Thus a rapist generally wouldn't be guaranteed
*freedom until 10 years had expired since the
indictment was filed against him. If DNA evi-
dence was available, that could be a long time
after the attack itself.
"A few years ago, it was relatively easy for a
rapist to elude the police and prey upon more
victims," said state Sen. Shirley Johnson (R-
Royal Oak) who sponsored the bill.
"But advances in DNA research, forensic stud-
ies and improved police tactics have given law
by man in
SHELBYVILLE (AP) - A dog
who was shot by his owner while the
man was suffering an apparent alco-
hol-induced delirium is recovering,
Allegan County Sheriff's records
The owner, a 68-year-old man, was
arrested after Monday's shooting and
faced charges of reckless discharge of
a firearm and animal cruelty, the Kala-
mazoo Gazette reported yesterday.
Sarge was hurled against the wall
from the blast's impact, which left
shrapnel wounds to his esophagus,
said the dog's former owner, Betty Jo
Noorman. She had given the dog to
the m'an, but is looking for a new
owner for Sarge.
A tenant of the man's reported the
shooting, telling deputies her landlord
*was suffering through alcohol with-
drawal. The man told deputies he mis-
took the dog for a boy who was
stealing from him, a sheriff's report
DETROIT (AP) - Once deemed
relics of the 1970s, bell-bottom
jeans and platform shoes have made
their North American comebacks.
Ford Motor Co. now hopes the
hatchback can do the same.
This fall, the world's second-
largest automaker plans to supply
North American showrooms with its
five-door Focus ZX5 hatchback,
thinking the car apparently groovy
among Europeans can catch on
across the Atlantic.
Analysts appear split on whether
hatchbacks can be revived like John
Travolta's career or whether they'll
go the way of the pet rock.
"Hatchbacks just don't make a
fashion statement," said Ron Pinel-
1i, of Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff
Lake, N.J. "American tastes are just
not in hatchback mode, and I'd be
surprised it those cars could be cool
The rape bill, passed 32-0, would extend the statute of
limitations for rape from the present six years to 10
years, or the victim's 21st birthday, whichever is later.
enforcement the upper hand against rapists. We
have to give our criminal justice system the
power to utilize these new tools to solve old
crimes and prevent new ones from happening."
The bill now goes to the state House, where it
is expected to pass.
"I would hate to think someone can get away
with rape if they laid low or left the state for six
years," Johnson said.
The measure making it a felony to cause the
death of an embryo or fetus during an assault on
a pregnant woman also passed on a 32-0 vote and
was sent to the House.
The measure is meant to close a loophole in
existing state law that allowed hazel Park attor-
ney Michael Fletcher to avoid charges in the
death of the unborn child his wife was carrying
when he killed her.
Fletcher was convicted of second-degree mur-
der in the Aug. 16, 1999, shooting death of his
wife Leann at their hone. He is serving a life
sentence in prison.
Current law makes it a felony to assault a preg-
nant woman with the intention of causing a still-
birth or miscarriage. But because Leann Fletcher
didn't have a stillbirth or miscarriage, that statute
couldn't be applied to Michael Fletcher.
"Because of that horrible experience, this bill
is moving forward," said Sen. William Van
Regenmorter (R-Georgetown Township) the mea-
Authorities said Fletcher staged his wife's
death to look like a suicide. At the time, he was
having an affair with Warren District Judge
Susan Chrzanowski, who has not been implicated
in Leann Fletcher's death.