The mirrored windows of the loss prevention office at Wal-Mart
Waco – A Lacy-Lakeview couple broke into the McLennan County Jail in order to develop a tort case against Bellmead police, juvenile authorities, and loss prevention specialists of Wal-Mart for “human trafficking.”
An all-white jury of four men and two women found a white mother of a mixed-race child guilty of interfering with the duties of a public official. She touched one of the police officers who had subdued her child in an arrest for petty theft. According to the judge’s instructions, that was the finding that would convict her of the charge.
Melissa Bias, wife of Victor Pool, a black man related to Elijah Pool, better known as the Honorable Elijah Muhammed, Messenger of Allah and founder of the Nation of Islam Mosque No. 1 at Chicago, Illinois, who is also related to World War Two Navy hero Doris Miller, was sentenced to 45 days in jail. She will be released next week, her case pending an appeal to District Court, after receiving credit for “good time” at the rate of three days for each day served in good conduct.
As the prospective jurors were questioned by prosecutors from the DA’s office, they were asked if any of them knew or had experience with the Bellmead Police Department.
The case involves a teenaged girl whose parents came to the loss prevention office of the Wal-Mart Super Center in that city on January 6 after the child called them on her cell phone to say she and her cousin were in trouble over shoplifting.
The entire family wound up under arrest – the parents charged with interfering with the duties of a public official, resisting arrest, and failure to identify themselves. The father is due in court later this month. The daughter is charged with petty theft, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, among an array of other charges. Her case is yet to be scheduled in juvenile court. Following her arrest, she was held pending a psychiatric evaluation that never took place when her father challenged the court’s pending order. Authorities later relented and released her to his custody.
The conflict began when she refused to relinquish her cell phone after Officer Sellers demanded she give it to him. Both he and Officer Hathaway made attempts to snatch it out of her hands. A surveillance video makes that perfectly clear.
During jury selection, a member of the panel raised her hand to say she had been previously employed at the city’s law enforcement agency and would have trouble arriving at a fair and impartial verdict. The rest of the veniremen were sequestered in privacy while the attorneys and the judge questioned her.
The woman said that during her time of employment at the police department, she found a “culture of violence” among its officers, who, she testified, often “roughed up” suspects under arrest.
McLennan County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Brad Cates dismissed her from jury duty for cause after thanking her for her candor in the performance of her duty.
Later, jurors watched a video of the events that took place inside the mirrored office off a vestibule beside the entrance to the store. Loss prevention specialists may see out of the windows, but those standing outside cannot see inside.
The events depicted begin with both of the girls, the Pools’ child, and a cousin who has reached the age of adulthood, sat, their phones in hand, awaiting the arrival of police officers.
When they entered the room, Officer Hathaway pointed his finger in the teenager’s face, demanding the phone. She lay her head on a desk where she was sitting, holding her phone away from him. Officer Sellers unwrapped a bulky-knit scarf from around her neck, put her in a headlock and wrestled her to the floor. Then both officers picked her up and placed her face down on the desk, grabbed the phone from her hand, and placed her in handcuffs before they seated her in the chair where she had been sitting.
During the melee over the phone, the child could see through the one-way mirror that her parents were standing outside the room. She could see them, but they could not see out.
Officer Hathaway has alleged he was injured when the child kicked him while he held her in a “submission” hold – pulling her nostrils back over her eyes with two fingers while exerting pressure on the nerves under her jaw.
Melissa Bias demonstrates the “submission hold” used by police
She began to scream for her parents to come and help her. The audio is eerily silent; there is no audio track.
Not long after, the Pools entered the room after a brief struggle for control of the door with a loss prevention specialist. One of the officers pointed a TASER gun in the Pools’ faces; they other began to wrestle with them. As Melissa Bias, the child’s mother who was convicted for interfering with the duties of a public official, rushed forward to hug her daughter, the officer shot her husband Victor with the TASER gun and the two cops put the couple in handcuffs.
Reached for comment, Victor Pool, who plans to represent himself before the court as did his wife, said, “They thought we came in there to win. We didn’t come in there to win. We have a civil case.”
Asked what his strategy will be in the prosecution of the civil case, he said, “It won’t have anything to do with civil rights. This is going to be a tort claim. They trespassed on my property…This is going to be a claim for a tort involving human trafficking.” He mentioned having targeted 22 persons who engaged in the alleged behavior of human trafficking by placing his daughter in foster care at the Bill Logue Juvenile Detention Center.
“They make money out of snatching peoples’ kids,” said Pool.
The original intention of the officers was to issue a summons for petty theft and allow her to be released to the custody of her parents. Their reaction to their attempt to rescue their daughter, he insists, is an act of human trafficking. “They don’t have jurisdiction,” he said.
When she refused to relinquish her phone and called her parents, they took direct action to control the child in the interest of “officer safety,” according to Sellers’ testimony, elicited at great pains by the defendant, Melissa Bias. The judge constantly admonished her to phrase her questions in a proper manner.
Asked if he is influenced by his relative’s religious convictions regarding Islam, Pool said, “I’m non-religious. I know what it is. It’s so political and so corrupt.” He added that in his studies he has found many similarities in the teaching of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
As to the law, his philosophy, he said, is “Did I cause you any harm? Is there really and truly a victim, here? The state of Texas is not a living, breathing human being.”