A Memphis store clerk was sentenced Thursday to 22 years in prison for fatally shooting a 17-year-old who had shoplifted a beer, the authorities said.
The clerk, Anwar Ghazali, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder in August after a four-day trial.
Prosecutors said the teenager, Dorian Harris, grabbed the beer from a cooler around 10 p.m. on March 29, 2018, and left the store, the Top Stop Shop, without paying. Mr. Ghazali then pulled a 40-caliber handgun from under the store counter and chased after Dorian, firing several rounds before returning to the store, prosecutors said.
Mr. Ghazali did not call the police, prosecutors said. A bullet hit the femoral artery in the back of Dorian’s left thigh and he bled to death. His body was found nearby two days later.
Lori Fowler, one of the prosecutors in the case, previously said that Mr. Ghazali “took it upon himself to be the judge and jury and the executioner over a $2 beer.”
Mr. Ghazali was sentenced Thursday by Tennessee Criminal Court Judge W. Mark Ward. His prison term includes no possibility of parole.
“It hurts,” Sylvia Harris, Dorian’s grandmother, told WMC Action News in Memphis after the sentencing hearing. “I will never, ever be able to see my grandson again. None of us will. This is a pill I just cannot swallow, but I am glad justice was served and my grandson can still rest in peace.”
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday evening.
Credit...Shelby County Sheriff
Blake Ballin, Mr. Ghazali’s lawyer, said in an email Thursday that Mr. Ghazali was “disappointed” that he was not given the lowest possible sentence — 15 years in prison.
At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Ghazali expressed remorse to Dorian’s family and said that he did not mean to harm Dorian, Mr. Ballin said.
“Mr. Ghazali has always maintained that his actions were reckless and he intends to file an appeal of the verdict and the sentence,” Mr. Ballin said.
Dorian’s death in March 2018 drew national attention as yet another case of a black boy being killed over something seemingly trivial. Many noted that it occurred in Memphis, a city that has long grappled with deep racial divides and is also where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his final speech before he was killed.
“If we don’t value black lives and believe that Dorian’s life is worth far more than an allegedly stolen beer, then we’re not authentically honoring my father,” the Rev. Bernice A. King, Dr. King’s daughter, said on Twitter in 2018.