Arrest at Wal-Mart leads to charges of racism

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Nearly three years after Heather Ellis switched checkout lines at a Missouri store and touched off what she calls a racially charged dispute, the young black schoolteacher faces a trial that could get her 15 years in prison.

Witnesses say Ellis cut in front of waiting customers, shoved merchandise on a conveyor belt out of her way and became belligerent when confronted, according to court filings.

Ellis maintains she was merely joining her cousin in a faster line. She says she was pushed by a white customer, hassled by store employees, called racial slurs and physically mistreated by police officers.

Police say she kicked one officer and split another's lip. Her trial for assault, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace begins Wednesday.

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