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“Not just here to arrest people”: Officer buys groceries for man in need

June 14, 2018

A chance encounter at a North Houston Walmart on Tuesday evening resulted in an act of kindness that typically goes unheralded.

Houston Police Officer Kirsten Koryciakwas off duty, but filling in for another officer at an extra job when she spotted a customer walk back into the store after leaving earlier with his groceries.

She noticed the man’s arm was freshly bandaged and asked him what happened.

He said that he had a diabetic episode in the parking lot, causing him to collapse and need medical assistance. While he was being treated by medics, his unattended groceries were stolen.

At an afternoon press conference, Koryciak said her biological father has Type 1 Diabetes, and her great grandmother also suffered from the disease. As a consequence, she understands the demands of the illness and empathized with the unnamed customer. To his apparent surprise, she offered to buy new groceries for him.

Koryciak said part of her job “is to care about people and to help people.” “I’m not just here to arrest people. I do care about this community.”

The rookie officer said she relates to the customer’s predicament in another way; he told Koryciak he has a low income. Koryciak said she recalls times in her own life when she and her spouse were pinching pennies, trying to provide for their children.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Koryciak said of her gesture.

She purchased about $25 worth of groceries for the man. He needed vegetables, oatmeal, medication and other basic items—all things Koryciak said a diabetic requires to maintain good health.

She hasn’t spoken to the grateful customer since, but Koryciak said he thanked her upon leaving the store and his response was “heartwarming.”

Walmart’s surveillance footage was viewed to identify the culprit who stole the groceries, but the officer said there was a visual obstruction in the footage. Police are still looking into the matter.

The officer described the man as being in his 50s or 60s and plainly dressed. To her knowledge, he rode a train to the Walmart store.

Police often perform acts not typically associated with law enforcement.

Even though she graduated from the academy just last year, Koryciak is no exception. She said she previously has performed similar acts of kindness in uniform and urged people to get involved when they see somebody being taken advantage of.

“Don’t just stand there and watch it or videotape it,” she said. “Unfortunately a lot of people nowadays like to just videotape and not actually do anything about it, and I think that’s wrong. You have to treat people like if they were your own family.”

victoria.cheyne@chron.com

twitter.com/victoria_cheyne

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