JEFFERSON — The claims made by former Marion County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tina Harris about her arrest last month on a charge of theft from Walmart in Marshall differ from the statements made by the responding Marshall police officer, according to the arrest affidavit from Harrison County.
Harris, who was hired by the chamber in February just before the COVID-19 shutdown, is no longer employed at the chamber.
Chamber President Christy Burleson would not say if Harris, 51, was fired or resigned but only referred to Harris as the former executive director.
A report filed with Harris’ arrest and obtained from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office outlined a different chain of events that led to the arrest on June 10 at Walmart in Marshall than Harris previously had claimed.
Harris had claimed at the time that she mistakenly forgot to scan two 12-packs of soft drinks on the bottom of her cart, that her total was $111 and that the store refunded her money and added the forgotten drinks to the total, raising the level of shoplifting charge that could be filed against her.
“I spent $111 and missed the drinks on the bottom at self-checkout,” Harris said at the time. “I offered to pay, and they refused, saying they were going to make an example out of me.”
However, the Marshall police report claims the number of goods not scanned at the self-checkout and the total value of items were significantly higher.
“On June 10, at about 6:55 p.m., I was dispatched to Walmart in reference to a shoplifter,” the officer wrote. “The complainant informed me that (Harris) did not scan multiple items while using a self-checkout register. I watched Walmart’s video surveillance footage which showed Harris bagging multiple items without scanning them.”
The report said the total amount of the stolen merchandise was $468.73.
Harris was arrested on a charge of theft of property less than $750 but more than $100 and booked into the Harrison County Jail where she was released the next day on a $2,000 bond.
Harris declined comment on the difference between her claims and the police officer’s on her arrest affidavit, other than to say she has hired an attorney. She also declined to give her attorney’s name.
Walmart was asked for a copy of its surveillance footage and to comment about the practice of “skip bagging,” in which customers reportedly scan every second or third item they bag. A Walmart media representative said the company had no further comment.
Walmart store’s surveillance footage, the police officer’s body camera footage and the arrest report also were sought from the Marshall Police Department through a Freedom of Information request. The department declined all parts of the FOI request, citing an ongoing investigation.