Feb 19, 2001
Another man in the Detroit area has been killed for the "crime" of shoplifting. Two guards at a Kroger store in Royal Oak Township wrestled Travis Anthony Shelton to the ground, accusing him of trying to get away with a piece of meat.
Shelton, who was only five-foot-six, and overweight, was tackled and pinned to the ground by two guards described as "large" in newspaper accounts. In fact, one of the guards weighed 377 pounds –this is the one who sat on Shelton's chest, crushing him, bringing on a heart seizure.
A Royal Oak township firefighter who witnessed the murder issued a statement that Shelton was wheezing and repeatedly told the guards he couldn't breathe.
The guards ignored him, keeping him pinned under their massive weight. When sheriff's deputies arrived, they turned Shelton over, discovering that he was dead.
The cover-up has already begun. The Oakland County medical examiner, Ljubisa Dragovic, who specializes in testifying for cops accused of killing people in other counties, quickly rushed to issue a white-wash of this murder which happened in his county. His autopsy said that Shelton, who was 38, had asthma, an enlarged heart, diabetes and high-blood pressure.
This is Dragovic's tried-and-true method: blame the victim, not the murderer. Using this same kind of reasoning, Dragovic should rule that no murder was committed in the case of an elderly person who was thrown to the sidewalk by a robber, severely beaten and then died of a heart attack.
Dragovic also declared that he discovered "possible" traces of opiates and cocaine in Shelton's system. Notice the word, "possible." In other words, Dragovic can't prove it –but it's "possible."
It's also "possible" –in fact, it's sure that Dragovic always stands ready to justify murder committed by cops or security guards.
Dragovic is not the only one engaged in helping Kroger sweep this murder under the rug. The Oakland county sheriff didn't even bother to interview most of the witnesses to the murder –some of whom have already spoken out to protest that the guards were particularly abusive with Shelton.
"Les Miserables," the musical that so many people went to see, was set in the 19th century. But, as this murder of a man who stole a piece of meat shows, the story of Jean Valjean is not at all out of date.