A woman accused of cutting in line at a Wal-Mart, shoving merchandise and assaulting police officers will plead guilty to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
Under the agreement — reached after the jury received the case for deliberations — Heather Ellis will plead guilty to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. She will serve a year of unsupervised probation, attend an anger management course and serve four days in jail before the end of the year.
The sentence stipulates that if Ellis stays out of trouble for a year, the charges will be sealed and the arrest won’t be on her permanent record.
Ellis said after court was adjourned that she was “taking responsibility for her actions and [hopes] that everyone else involved in the case will take responsibility for theirs.”
Earlier Friday, Ellis, 24, took the stand and denied all charges in the racially charged case.
Witnesses and police say Ellis cut in front of customers at a Wal-Mart in January 2007, pushed aside merchandise belonging to another customer to make room for hers on the conveyor belt and, after police were called to the scene, kicked one officer in the shin and split another’s lip. The prosecution has also alleged the Ellis went “ballistic in a profane tirade” that continued when police officers arrived.
Ellis, now a schoolteacher, denied all accusations against her, although she acknowledged in her Friday testimony that she touched another shopper’s items on the conveyor belt.
She was initially charged with assaulting police officers, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. Had she been convicted of those charges, she could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Ellis, then a college student with no criminal history, has said that some white patrons shoved and hurled racial slurs at her when she switched checkout lines. Store employees refused to give her her change and called police, she said.
She said Friday that the incident began when she joined her cousin in the checkout line and was ignored by the clerk. She did not not cut in line and did not yell or use profanity, said Ellis, who has not spoken about the case outside of court.
As she left the store, Ellis told the Dunklin County Circuit Court, a police officer told her, “Look at this stupid bitch. Take your ass back to the ghetto.”
She alleged that an officer behind her forcefully grabbed her shoulder without telling her she was being arrested.
She did not resist, but said her body was “flung around” by officers. She screamed loudly for help as officers “choked” her and pulled her hair, but she did not hit or kick them, she testified.