A South Carolina woman was charged after she confronted an 11-year-old Black girl she falsely accused of stealing from her mailbox.
On May 11, Skhylur Davis and three other children went to her grandmother’s mailbox in Aiken, South Carolina, to retrieve the mail, reported The Augusta Chronicle. While she was standing outside holding the items, Elizabeth Shirey, her grandmother’s neighbor, “approached her in an aggressive manner and demanded her mail back,” stated an Aiken Public Safety incident report. Davis denied the theft accusations.
Shirey, a 38-year-old white woman, reportedly grabbed the girl’s arms and pulled on them. During the conflict, Shirey’s husband came outside and he was hostile, the girl said.
“He said, ‘If you were a different type of guy, then this would have been another story,’ but he doesn’t use any word other than type,” Davis recalled of the incident during a Zoom news conference on Tuesday.
The police report states that when Shirey saw the address on the mail in Davis’ hands and “realized the person was a juvenile,” she let go. She also “offered to make it better by offering cookies.”
Justin Bamberg, Davis’ attorney, told reporters during the news conference the encounter was racially motivated.
“We shouldn’t have to sit here and have this discussion in 2020, in South Carolina on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery down in Brunswick, Georgia, a situation which the world is very much familiar,” Bamberg said as he sat next to Davis in his offices. “Right here in Aiken, South Carolina we have another victim and this time, the charge is assault and battery. The victim unfortunately is an 11-year-old girl.”
Alice Patterson, Davis’ grandmother, expressed her family’s outrage at Davis’ treatment.
“We’re hurt, we’re upset, and we’re angry. She’s angry and hurt. She was violated,” Patterson said at the news conference. “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.”
Bamberg also criticized Shirey’s attempt to rectify the situation after she realized her error.
“Mrs. Shirey happens to see this young child by her mailbox and proceeds to come out of her home, yell at this 11-year-old girl. Mrs. Shirey runs aggressively towards this 11-year-old child accusing her of committing a felony, stealing her mail,” Bamberg continued. “After realizing that Skhylur had not done anything wrong, this woman proceeds to offer her cookies, as though that makes things better.”
Shirey was charged with third-degree assault and battery. Attorney Jim Huff told CNN Shirey “deeply regrets this incident.” He denied she touched Davis and insisted the incident was not racially motivated.
“My client apologized to the girl and even offered to bake cookies and bring them to their home,” Huff told the outlet in an email. “Later, Skhylur’s mother and grandmother came to my client’s house. My client apologized to both of them. At that point what I find to be uplifting is that the girls’ mother showed grace and understanding to my client and they both hugged each other before the mother left.”