Jury finds grocery clerk guilty of murder in shoplifter shooting

Anwar Ghazali, the store clerk who shot and killed teenager Dorian Harris in 2018 for allegedly stealing a beer, was found guilty of second-degree murder after a four-day trial.

(CNN) — A jury found a grocery clerk guilty of killing a 17-year-old boy who ran out of the store with a beer he didn’t pay for in Memphis, Tennessee, in a case that had sparked protests, authorities said.

Anwar Ghazali was convicted of second-degree murder after a four-day trial, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said Friday.

“This defendant took it upon himself to be the judge and jury and the executioner over a $2 beer,” prosecutor Lora Fowler said, according to CNN affiliate WMC.

The shooting happened in March 2018, after Dorian Harris walked out of the Top Stop Shop with a beer without paying, Weirich said.

Security video of the incident played in court shows that Ghazali, while behind the counter dealing with another customer, pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Harris. He then ran outside to follow the teen and fired several times.

Afterward, he returned to the store and told a witness, “I think I shot him.” He did not call the police, and neither did any other customer inside the store, WMC reported.

Harris was shot at least three times and was left to bleed out, Fowler said. His body was found two days later in a yard near the store with gunshots in the back of his thigh, Weirich said.

Ghazali’s defense attorney, Blake Ballin, told CNN in an email that Ghazali maintains he acted recklessly that night but his intention was never to harm Harris.

He said they were pleased that the jury rejected the prosecution’s argument that this was a calculated and premeditated murder motivated by the theft of a beer. That would have come with a potential life sentence.

Ghazali is expected to be sentenced on September 23.

“At his sentencing hearing I expect him to express his heartfelt remorse and his hope that Mr. Harris’ family can forgive him and continue healing,” Ballin said.

Family mourns: ‘Why did this happen to my son?’

The shooting, which sparked protests outside the store, has similarities to other instances of black men shot and killed over otherwise minor incidents. Bernice King, daugher of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., linked his death to the broader issue of the value of African American lives known as the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Dear Memphis: I’m here in your city. #DorianHarris should be here, too,” she said on Twitter. “If we don’t value black lives and believe that Dorian’s life is worth far more than an allegedly stolen beer, then we’re not authentically honoring my father.”

Ballin said his defense team focused on the facts and not the emotion of the case.

“I understand why this case has caused public frustration because another African American kid has been needlessly killed. But decisions of guilt and innocence and questions of intent should not be based on emotion,” he said. “The defense team did our best to make sure that the jury rendered a verdict based on the facts of the case and not on the color of someone’s skin. That would just be another injustice.”

Harris’ family members mourned the young man after the killing and ahead of the trial.

“It shouldn’t have happened like that,” his grandmother Effie Fitch told WMC in April 2018. “He was a child and that was an adult. He ought to have more responsibility than that and he’s running a business.”

“Why did this happen to my son?” Harris’ father, Peete Hanson, said earlier this week. “Why was it that he was left there like that? Like he was nothing. Like he was a nobody.”

The-CNN-Wire
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9 comments

  • lml25

    These liberal infused stories are meant to condition the public to accept crime.The libs feel that crime is a small price to pay for their overall goal of a diverse city,state country. So the kid only stole beer,how is the storeowner supposed to decide when he can protect his store–when he sees the kid with a knife,gun,automatic weapon? That the kid is black,only reinforces the Dems theme,that non-blacks should NEVER call the police on blacks–whatever their doing.

  • ROBERT E LEE

    What the F is going on in this country? Now we cannot defend our stores from criminals. The kid deserved everything he got! He has probably done this multiple times, if not him I’m sure many others have done the same to this store owner. Do we know how many times a year someone steals a beer or something else from this guy. Is he just supposed to let this happen? Lets say they steal a $2.00 beer every week. that’s over a hundred dollars a year multiply that by how many ppl per year steal from him and it is not a small number. do you think that just because its “only 2.00 bucks” it should be ok? what about the store owners right to make a living and defend his own property? Is the store owner just supposed to sit by while people come in and take things? (its ok its only a $2.00 item) if that’s the case what is to stop people from stealing 2.00 worth of stuff everytime they enter a store. “Well the owner does not do anything so we can just keep taking and taking” As long as its $2.00 at a time, Right? The cops will not do anything even if its on tape. you cannot be prosecuted for under $3.00. So what are you supposed to do? Protect your stuff or just let the criminals run rampant as long as its $2.00 at a time. Glad he got shot, to bad the store owner wasn’t a better shot ahey im just checking back to see if you guys are free monday afternoon the 12thnd nailed him right in the forehead.

    • Sue Malone

      SIMPLE- Call the police. As a responsible business and gun owner, that is the right and legal thing to do.This is not the Old West. There are rules and regulations that apply to ALL. Thieves included. Anyone can be prosecuted for thier of any amount. It is the ACT,not the amount that constitutes a crime. As a civilized country, we can not go about killing people for any little slight done to us. That is why there is a court of law!! If everyone acted as this storekeeper did, there would be total chaos. It would be simply ridiculous to say the teenager should be allowed to steal due to the amount. It is just as ridiculous for the teenager to be killed because of it. There was no threat to the store keepers life or that of his other customers. He became a murderer the minute he pulled the trigger outside his business. He became a murderer when he ,believing that he shot that teenager, did not call to report the shooting!! This can not be allowed as acceptable in our society. It would be the same if a 10 year old stole from him. His callous regard for life can not be ignored or allowed in a civilized society!!

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