Not too long ago a Chicago suburb was rocked by a strange and rather inexplicable murder when an Uber driver was stabbed to death by a young girl. And now it seems there are serious questions about who is at fault here.
Sixteen-year-old Eliza Wasni, a high school student with a history of mental illness, allegedly shoplifted a machete and a knife from a Skokie, Illinois Wal-Mart, and then calmly ordered an Uber. Driver Grant Nelson, a family man with love for animals and music, showed up and was stabbed to death by the young girl. She has been charged with first-degree murder and remains in jail without bail.
In an interview with Chicago’s ABC affiliate, and WLS News Radio, it was discovered that Wasni had attended only nine days of school this past year, and had, instead been in and out of “therapeutic hospitals” for the better part of two years. Where was the oversight of this troubled teen? In an amazing demonstration of forgiveness, the victim’s family has requested memorial contributions in Nelson’s memory be made to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Alex Nelson, Grant Nelson’s younger sister, stated, “There’s already so much burden that’s been laid on this family, hatred is not something we have time for or interest in.”
And so it is justice, not revenge, that the Nelson family seeks which has prompted a wrongful death lawsuit naming Wal-Mart stores, Monterrey Security Consultants, and Allied Universal Security Consultants as negligent resulting in the death of Nelson. The amount the family is seeking has not been disclosed.
So how can Wal-Mart and their security ‘consultants’ be held liable for a murder committed by Wasni? Well, here’s what the plaintiffs allege:
First, security cameras inside the Walmart store show Wasni, at 3:00 a.m., removing the five-inch hunting knife and eighteen-inch machete from inside a display case, and carrying the weapons throughout the store. A thinking person would surmise that a teenaged girl, walking around with weapons in the wee hours of the morning might be looking for trouble.
Second, Wasni walked right past two Wal-Mart security agents, weapons in tow, without having either employee ask for a receipt, question her un-bagged purchases or detain her for any reason. The Nelson family’s attorney, Robert Bingle, released a statement which in part, read, it was “very obvious that this young girl with a machete in one hand and a knife in the other hand, with no receipt, was not going to do anything good.”
Wal-Mart also has detectors that sound a shrill alarm if an item with a security device is not removed at the point of purchase. I don’t know about you, but I would think a weapon might have a security tag, as with most electronics, instead of the low-dollar flip flops. Just sayin’.
Wal-mart has, so far, offered its condolences, declined to comment on the “specifics” of the allegations, and defended its workers. They have responded in writing and issued this statement:
“We continue offering our deepest condolences to Mr. Nelson’s family for their loss. Out of respect for everyone involved, we believe it’s not appropriate to discuss the specifics of this matter, but we can say that we believe our associates acted properly, including alerting third-party security to a possible shoplifting incident. We will respond appropriately with the court.”
So, who is to blame? The mental healthcare system charged with Eliza’s care, that now seems incompetent at best? A teenage girl’s single-mother who apparently did not notice Eliza wasn’t at home in bed at 3:00 a.m. or the girl now charged as an adult for murder? Maybe it’s the deep pockets of a retail giant, that will garner the most coverage, and who may have dropped the ball on all company security standards and procedure?
What we do know, is that a kind and gentle man, Grant Nelson, is the one person that cannot be blamed. And his family should be lauded for their graciousness in what thus far has been a horrid affair.
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