Kaufman, TX – A Kaufman police sergeant became the subject of an internal investigation on Wednesday, after he gave money to a hungry shoplifter and refused to arrest the man for theft.
Sergeant Nick Stevens, a five-year veteran of the Kaufman Police Department (KPD), responded to a report of a theft at a Walmart around noon on Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News reported.
When he arrived, he learned that employees had detained a male suspect who had attempted to leave the store without paying for food and a beverage.
The suspect told Sgt. Stevens that he hadn’t eaten in two days, and he admitted that he stole the items – a turkey leg and a Gatorade – because he was hungry, WFAA reported.
Although Walmart wanted the man arrested, Sgt. Stevens decided it was not necessary, and released him with a written warning.
Sgt. Stevens also gave the man some cash from his own pocket, so he would be able to buy himself something to eat.
When Sgt. Stevens returned to the station, however, an argument erupted between him and a superior officer, who wanted to know why Sgt. Stevens didn’t arrest the shoplifter for theft.
According to WFAA, the KPD ultimately suspended Sgt. Stevens due to “an allegation of insubordination.”
“When a victim of a crime, in this instance, the business, states that they want to pursue charges against someone for the criminal act of which they are a victim, the department is obligated to do so,” the KPD wrote in a press release. “While discussing this issue…an incident took place that required an internal investigation.”
The KPD did not elaborate about what occurred at the station, but it did confirm that Sgt. Stevens’ weapon and credentials were taken from him, pending an internal investigation.
The KPD also used the press release to praise Sgt. Stevens.
“The department applauds our Sergeant for the compassion and kindness that he showed to this individual, and the investigation that is in progress has nothing to do with that decision by our officer,” the release read. “We hope that the example of kindness shown by our officer inspires others to do the same.”
Sgt. Stevens took to Facebook Wednesday evening.
“I’m tired people. Really, really tired,” he wrote. “Trying to do what is right, seems to lead to as much trouble as if you had just done the easy but wrong thing. I think I’m getting too old to fight the battles every day.”
Regardless of the outcome of the KPD internal investigation, Sgt. Stevens’ daughter, Kelsey Stevens, said she believes her father made the right decision.
“He told me if he feels what he’s doing is morally right—then he is going to stand up for that,” she told WFAA. “Even if it’s at his own risk.”