Woman sorry for 100-year-old Wal-Mart greeter's fall
MILWAUKEE — Kai Metcalf said Thursday she had no problem allowing a 100-year-old woman who works as a greeter at a Milwaukee Wal-Mart to inspect her receipt as she left the store last month.
Metcalf, in an interview at her lawyer's office, said she did have a problem when the greeter, Lois Speelman, kept complaining about "you people," before saying something to the effect of, "You people think you can do whatever you want. Not today."
That's when Metcalf, who is black, tried to take her receipt back from Speelman, who is white. The two made what prosecutors described Thursday as "incidental contact" with each other, causing Speelman to fall backward to the ground.
The Nov. 28 confrontation led to Speelman undergoing a CT scan at a hospital and Metcalf spending a night in jail, but prosecutors said Thursday they would not file charges against Metcalf because surveillance video of the incident shows she did not intend to harm Speelman and that the situation "does not rise to the level of a crime," according to a statement from the Milwaukee County district attorney's office.
Metcalf, 37, said Thursday she wishes she had handled the situation better and apologized for Speelman's fall.
"It was humbling and humiliating and a lesson learned," Metcalf, a Milwaukee resident, said of the incident and her arrest. "I hate that I've been made to look like this monster or something, because everybody kind of jumped on the story and ran with it. It was a horrible experience."
A police report released Thursday shows Speelman made similarly racially charged comments to prosecutors while discussing the case last week.
Speelman told prosecutors that "these types of people" often become upset when she checks their receipts, the report says.
When she was asked to clarify what she meant by "these types of people," Speelman said, "Mexicans, Spanish and colored people," according to the report.
Speelman also said "these types of people" are "difficult to deal with," the report says.
The police report also says Speelman violated Wal-Mart policy by grabbing Metcalf's arm to get her attention and leaving the store to check the receipt while she and Metcalf were on the sidewalk outside the building.
A voicemail left at Speelman's home Thursday was not immediately returned. Last week, she denied making racially charged comments during the incident and said she had no racial animosity toward Metcalf, whom she said was "running off at the mouth."
Speelman's lawyer, Michael Hupy, said Thursday he couldn't comment on "any of (Speelman's) experiences or her characterization of them."
"I hope that this is a lesson to a lot of people, however they view this incident," he said.
Metcalf said Thursday she couldn't hear Speelman when Speelman was trying to get her attention. Metcalf was pushing her cart out of the store and was using ear buds to talk on her cell phone.
Video of the incident released Thursday shows Speelman hurrying after Metcalf as Metcalf leaves the store, then grabbing Metcalf by the left arm.
Metcalf said Speelman said something like, "You heard me," then asked for the receipt. Metcalf said Speelman was talking about "you people" while reviewing the receipt, then accused her of paying for only one of three items stored on the cart's bottom rack.
Metcalf had paid for all the items in her cart and pointed this out on the receipt.
"I was insulted and slightly offended by the statements that she was making because I took them to be racially motivated," Metcalf said while sitting next to her lawyer, Julius Kim. "I shop there all the time and I see her all the time, and so I was just a little bit bothered by her tone."
After about 50 seconds, Metcalf asked Speelman to return her receipt so she could leave. Speelman is seen in the video holding up a hand to Metcalf's face before Metcalf reaches for the receipt and makes incidental contact with Speelman, causing her to fall.
Metcalf walked away without helping Speelman to her feet. Metcalf said Thursday she should have handled the confrontation differently but said she walked away from Speelman because Speelman was accusing Metcalf of assaulting her.
"I felt bad that she fell," Metcalf said. "That wasn't my intention by any means. I just really wanted to remove myself from the situation because I was upset and offended."
Speelman returned to work four days after the incident.
Metcalf said she should have ignored Speelman's comments or asked to speak with a manager rather than trying to grab the receipt. She said she was not trying to flee from the store and voluntarily gave her contact information to a store employee before leaving the property.
Speelman's lawyer said Thursday that Metcalf shouldn't have left Speelman on the ground.
"It certainly is bad behavior to knock a 100-year-old woman down, go to your car and leave her on the floor," Hupy said. "But the district attorney's office concluded what happened didn't amount to a crime."
Metcalf, who has no criminal record, repeatedly apologized Thursday for her role in the incident and said she's glad Speelman wasn't seriously injured.
"I was really scared because I've never been in trouble before," she said. "I've never been arrested, never had any kind of police contact, so that for me was really difficult and humbling."