Update (November 4, 2019): A Memphis store clerk has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting and killing a 17-year-old boy in March.
Anwar Ghazali, who shot Dorian Harris for allegedly stealing a $2 wine cooler, received his sentence Thursday after he was found guilty of murder in the second degree in August.
According to the Commercial Appeal, the defense said Ghazali fired into the air as a warning shot, but he wasn’t trying to kill Harris as he fled the store.
Video footage shows Harris walking into the store around 10 p.m. on March 29, then walking out with a beer before the store clerk started chasing him.
Witnesses said Ghazali searched for Harris in the parking lot, chased him down the block and fired his gun about three times.
Ghazali then returned to his store and went back to work while telling customers he shot Harris, but no one called 911, according to the police report.
Middle Eastern convenience store clerk in Memphis, named Anwar Ghazali, shoots and kill a Black teen-Dorian Harris-allegedly over can of beer. Declines to notify police after believing he may have shot the unarmed Black kid. The store clerk was arrested and charged. pic.twitter.com/vyuG1MkXAT— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) April 2, 2018
Harris' body was found two days later in a neighbor's backyard about four blocks away from the store.
"He just left him out there to die, and I do believe in all my heart that if he had called the police and let somebody know that he shot somebody that my grandson would have been alive today," Effie Fitch, Harris’ grandma, told Commercial Appeal.
Beverly Loverson, one of the witnesses, told the court that she regrets her decision to not call 911.
“I wish I had. It could have saved his life,” Loverson said.
According to WMC-TV, prosecutor Lora Fowler said the defendant took it upon himself to be the judge, jury and executioner over a $2 beer.
“His life was cut short when he was chased and at least shot at three times with a fatal gunshot wound to his left thigh and left to bleed out and die,” Fowler said.
Harris' murder set off months of protests and memorials in North Memphis after Top Stop Shop employee Anwar Ghazali fatally shot him over a $2 wine cooler he was accused of stealing.
“This defendant took it upon himself to the be the judge and jury and the executioner over a $2 beer,” said prosecutor Lora Fowler, according to local news outlet WMC-TV. “His life was cut short when he was chased and at least shot at three times with a fatal gunshot wound to his left thigh and left to bleed out and die.”
In court this afternoon covering the Anwar Ghazali murder trial. Ghazali is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Dorian Harris in March 2018 over allegedly stealing a beer from the Top Stop Shop in north Memphis. #WMC5 pic.twitter.com/kLZGNFmhAQ— Jessica Holley (@Jessica_Holley) August 13, 2019
Ghazali is facing up to 60 years in prison for Harris' murder and will be sentenced on September 23. The verdict came after three days of testimony from people in and around the store.
Video tapes of the incident show Harris walking in the store around 10 p.m. on March 29. Harris spent only seven seconds in the store, taking a beer and walking out. The store clerk ran past customers to chase Harris after he walked out with the beer.
Witnesses told the court they saw Ghazali in the parking lot searching for Harris. When Ghazali spotted him, he chased him down the block and fired his gun about three times. He returned to his store and went back to work without calling 911.
No one in the store who saw the interaction called 911, even though Ghazali told customers he shot Harris, according to the police report.
Tragically, it took two days for Harris' body to be found in a neighbor's backyard about four blocks away from the store. One of Ghazali's shots severed an artery in his leg and he bled to death.
Beverly Loverson, one of the witnesses at the store who heard Ghazali say he shot Harris and did not call 911, said she regretted her decision but was scared of Harris when she first saw him rush out of the store with the beer.
“He grabbed two coolers, he dropped one and I saw him,” she told the court Wednesday. “I wish I had, it could have saved his life.”
Harris' grandmother, Effie Fitch, told Commercial Appeal that she let him spend the weekend at his cousin's house and was shattered when police came to her door two days later.
Harris had been living with his grandmother after his mother died in 2012 and his father moved to Alabama.
Fitch said the situation was particularly tragic because Harris was known by other clerks at the store and well liked.
"Dorian was just the type of child, he was very respectful and the community just loved him because he was a mannerable child. They never had no problem and he didn't mind helping folks and would ask to rake leaves or do other jobs. He would go up there, laughing, talking with them. Throwing boxes away, cleaning the lot up," Fitch said in an interview with Commercial Appeal. "He just left him out there to die, and I do believe in all my heart that if he had called the police and let somebody know that he shot somebody that my grandson would have been alive today. Ban him from the store, if he stole something come tell us that he stole something, but don't shoot him."
The store owner, who referred to himself as Sam in an anonymous interview with Commercial Appeal, even said Harris would frequently call in to the store and ask if he could come get drinks or small items if he was low on money. Sam knew Harris well and would let him take things from the store without paying.
A partial owner of Top Shop said they had gotten complaints about Ghazali and were preparing to fire him. They were giving him a few days to find a new job when he shot Harris.