Helen Johnson was heartbroken. Her pockets were soaking wet after the eggs she had desperately stolen had cracked, and the police were on their way.
She had never even expected that those cracked eggs would help keep her family’s bellies full for more than a few hours, but boy she was in for a surprise.
Her five children had not eaten in three days.
When Helen Johnson walked into the Dollar General store on Monday, she thought the $1.25 in her pocket would be enough to buy a carton of eggs. But when the grandmother realized she was just 50 cents plus tax short of feeding her two daughters, two grandchildren, and her niece, all living in her tiny Alabama apartment, she tried to steal a few eggs.
“I thought because I left a dollar and a quarter, it would make up for the three eggs,” said the grandmother, who realized she made a bad, but desperate, decision.
The cashier caught Johnson just before she left the store and called the cops on the grandmother as she waited outside. When Tarrant Police Officer William Stacy approached Johnson, she explained to the officer what had happened.
“I said, ‘Yes sir, I came to get some eggs but I didn’t have enough money.’ I reached down into my pocket and came out with the eggs. They ran through my hands because they were cracked,” she said.
Johnson, whose five children had not eaten in three days, was sure she was going to be arrested and started to worry. “I said, ‘Oh my God I’m going to jail for eggs. My grandkids are not going to eat. What am I going to do?'”
Officer Stacy was called after the grandmother had stolen a few eggs.
When Officer Stacy told the 47-year-old Alabama woman to wait outside while he went in the store, she expected the worst.
But when he came back outside, he wasn’t holding handcuffs. He had bought the woman the eggs she had tried to steal.
“You just can’t let kids go hungry,” the rookie cop told Fox6.
“Some of these people, they’re just caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time and they don’t necessarily mean the thing they do. You gotta help them out. We’re there to help, to serve and protect. We’re there to make a difference,” Stacy told Fox6.
He handed Johnson the eggs, gave her a hug, and went on his way. Officer Stacy thought that was the end of it—but Dollar General shopper Robert Tripp was touched by his actions and recorded the whole thing.
The officer bought the eggs for Johnson, who gave him a big hug.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Tripp said. He shared the video, which went viral, and within 24 hours the Tarrant Police Department was flooded with phone calls and emails.
“They wanted to thank Officer Stacy for such a wonderful gesture and wanting to donate money to not only help the woman in the video but to donate to the City of Tarrant toy and food drive for all of the families in need,” wrote a Department spokesperson on Facebook. “This makes our hearts smile.”
Just a few days after the incident, Officer Stacy delivered two truckloads of food to Johnson’s home.
Johnson was just as surprised as Officer Stacy and the entire police department at the flood of support that had come her way.
“Look at this food! This isn’t food…this is like manna from heaven,” Johnson said.
Who knew that three cracked eggs and a run-in with the police was actually a blessing in disguise for the Johnson family. The grandmother, mother, and guardian of five children is grateful for the second chance and says she won’t steal again.
“You changed our life.” she said.
“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”
Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno is proud of the way Officer Stacy assessed and responded to the situation.
“Officers have to use appropriate and good discretion on every call they go on, and we’re proud of what he’s done,” Reno told Fox6.
Officer Stacy’s actions have also helped to change misconceptions many Americans hold about police officers. He added, “A guy called me from New York and just broke down. He said for two months he’s been angry with police, and he said this has totally changed his mind.”
The police chief said the community support is “growing and growing and growing.”
Officer Stacy, who truly exemplifies the meaning of “to protect and serve”, says he was just doing his job.
“You gotta help them out. We’re there to help, to serve and protect. We’re there to make a difference.”
The Tarrant Police Department has extended their help to the Johnson family and posted a message on their Facebook page.