As the holiday season is upon us, we turn with warm thoughts to the case of Pepper Spray Lady, the woman who unleashed a torrent of bitter tear juice on fellow shoppers during a Black Friday sale at a Porter Ranch Walmart. National headlines ensued.
As we told you previously, the LAPD appeared to be ready to throw the book at her and recommend charges. But that didn't turn out entirely as planned.
But if you still think Santa should put a lump of coal in her stocking, there's hope:
While the L.A. County District Attorney's office declined to file felony charges, the L.A. City Attorney's office now has the ball. It can still hit her with a misdemeanor case.
Frank Mateljan of the L.A. City Attorney's office tells the Weekly that the LAPD's file on the pepper sprayer is in the house and that it's "under review."
The Los Angeles Times, which ID'd the woman as 32-year-old Elizabeth Macias, has surmised that it might be a tough case to run with, especially if Macias can present evidence that she used the spray in self-defense.
It all went down on the eve of Black Friday -- we non-shoppers call that Thanksgiving -- when Walmart employees unveiled an Xbox on sale at the store and a crush of people moved in.
After the pepper spray hit the air, about 20 people complained of irritation and were treated by L.A. Fire Department personnel, who responded to the store parking lot.
The woman wasn't stopped and reportedly even checked out with her prized Xbox.
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The next day she turned herself in at an LAPD station, but she has not been arrested. Lt. Lt. Tim Torsney of the LAPD's Devonshire Division told the Weekly cops would press forward with a case against her: "She's a suspect in the unlawful use of O.C. spray," he said.
Here's what the law in California, which apparently applies to tear gas and pepper spray, says:
Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) ...