AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — On the heels of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting death, a family says that one of their own was racially profiled in their Aiken community. What started as a typical day of getting the mail for grandma, turned into an assault in the Houndslake Community. “We’re upset and we’re angry. She’s angry and hurt,” Alice Patterson said.
Patterson and her granddaughters live in a quiet area on the south side of Aiken. That quiet, being troubled, following that incident involving her granddaughter Skhylur earlier this month. “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,” Patterson said.
“I wasn’t scared because in this type of situation, you do anything but be scared and I chose to face my fears,” Skhylur said.
A police report reveals Elizabeth Shirey noticed someone near the mailbox and she tried to get their attention. When that didn’t work, she came over, attempted to grab the mail, and then made a discovery. “I was looking like this isn’t your mail just check the address. We responded to them that it’s not their mail, [Ms. Shirey] tried to explain and tried to give us cookies to make peace,” Skhulur recalls.
With several unarmed African-American deaths making headlines, a renewed spotlight on race relations across the U.S. and here at home. Skhylur and the family’s lawyers, Justin Bamberg, shared with NewsChannel 6 why they think the incident happened in the first place. “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,” Skhylur shared.
“Where are we at in America? When we reached a point where we have to continue to question what would have happened if someone looked different than the way they look,” Bamberg said.
Aiken City officials even offering their opinions with City Councilwoman Andrea Gregory saying that these types of conversations are needed in order to stop potential problems in our communities. “People need to be made aware. People need to learn from these instances, the current climate, you would think people would learn,” she said.
We’ve learned from Aiken Public Safety, no custodial arrest was made on Elizabeth Shirey. Instead, a citation was written and given to Shirey and she was not booked into the jail in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Issuance of a citation for low-level misdemeanor offenses is common practice,” according to Lieutenant Jake Mahoney with Aiken Public Safety. “This practice has become more common during the COVID-19 State of Emergency when jail and detention center populations are attempting to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals. This practice is in place in order to limit the spread of the Corona Virus and protect those individuals currently incarcerated,” he added.
We’re told in the Shirey case, “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,” Lieutenant Mahoney shared.
For Patterson, she says that the assault is causing her to be more vigilant and she’s ready.
As far as what’s next, Justin Bamberg says that the case is in the criminal system and it will be up to Shirey is she pleads guilty or goes to trial. She’s currently facing charges of third-degree assault and battery.