Was the Wal-Mart Pepper Sprayer Acting in Self Defense?

The most reviled woman in America at the moment is without a doubt the Wal-Mart pepper sprayer, whose cold, bald avarice eclipsed all other Black Friday crimes. (The most reviled woman in the U.K. is this one, but that's another story.) Yet despite turning herself in to police, she still walks freely among us. Why? Could there be any doubt as to her culpability? We've all seen the video capturing the moment, in which we can clearly make out, uh, a bunch of people screaming in a Wal-Mart?

But consider for one moment an alternate explanation of the events: What if you suddenly found yourself at the bottom of a pile of hundreds of shoppers, whipped into a frenzy over a stack of discounted Xboxes. You begin to panic, and fear you might become one of those Black Friday casualties you read about each year. Then you remember: You have that tube of pepper spray in your purse!

LAPD Detective Michael Fesperman says the woman, caught in the rush for video-game consoles, may have feared for her life.

"There was a stampede at Walmart from people getting Xbox games for half off," he said. "There was no control. People were getting stampeded and trampled. There were people screaming, yelling that they were being trampled or crushed.

"This woman may have fired her pepper spray in self-defense."

Of course, that doesn't explain why the woman, having released a toxic cloud that left dozens wheezing and seeking medical attention, then proceeded to the checkout to ring up her trophy, without informing anyone at the store as to what just transpired. Was she in shock? Afraid of the repercussions? Or was this exactly what everyone assumed it was: Some crazed fiend spraying down a crowd with pepper spray so she could bring home a reduced video game console? We may never truly know. [KTLA, Photo via Shutterstock]