Officer's empathy gives mom a chance at redemption

Posted January 8, 2016
Updated January 9, 2016

— On Dec. 10, a desperate mother crossed paths with a compassionate police officer and learned a lesson about human nature she hopes will inspire others.

Natasha Nicholls, an out-of-work graduate student, is sandwiched between caring for an 8-year-old son and her 76-year-old mother. As Christmas approached, she worried about being able to provide for them.

"I didn’t want to see my son disappointed for Christmas," she said. "I had to have something for him."

On a visit to the Triangle for a doctor's appointment, Nicholls walked into a Knightdale Best Buy and walked out with toys she didn't pay for.

"I was desperate. I was very desperate," she said. "I was in a place that I hope I never get to that place again, to the point that I'm going into the store and taking something that's not mine."

The store's security guard called police. Knightdale Officer Jarred Bridges, 25 and a father of two, responded to the store but saw through Nicholls' crime.

"Just talking to her, my heart really went out to her," he said. "She’s a parent. She wants the best for her child."

Bridges said he didn't want to charge Nicholls but was compelled to follow the law. He charged Nicholls with larceny. Then he did something unexpected. Bridges and the store security guard pooled their money to buy presents for Nicholls' son.

"Basically, they purchased everything for me that I was trying to take," she said. "It has also shown me how generous people can still be these days."

Bridges' boss, Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps, agreed.

"I couldn't be more proud of Officer Bridges," he said. "He's a true asset to this organization, and he's a true embodiment of our mission and our core values."

Nicholls understands that some people will see her as a thief. She is determined to own her actions and serve any punishment.

"I’m here by my own doing," she said.

Her advice for others who hit bottom:

"No matter how bad it gets, don’t doing anything that’s going to jeopardize your future. Stick it out. Stay in the fight, and it will always get better," Nicholls said.


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  • Janet Ghumri Jan 9, 2016
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    And the kids would be happier with the stolen gifts and know that their mom is in jail Christmas morning?? Sorry, this story stinks on the moms side. (It's not like Best Buy sells warm winter coats!! She was stealing and she got lucky). Kudos to the officers, and very compassionate gesture.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 9, 2016
    user avatar

    I agree the emphasis on Christmas gifts kids MUST HAVE is all wrong. Years ago with an 9 yr.old, a 14 month old and a 5 day old, I had very, very little $ to spend. I bought what I could afford for the oldest, and 1 gift for the toddler and nothing for the newbie.
    Christmas eve, I saw a church van delivering BAGzS AND BAGS FULL of gifts for a family across the way. Later I watched her kids (10, 8, 5 years) taking loads of stuff to the dumpster. The things they were tossing? Books, puzzles, games, new looking electronic toys. Bicycles and clothes! I had to find out what was the deal, the oldest girl told me that the bike had a FLAT tire,they don't LIKE games & the electronic toys had DEAD BATTERIES ! (her mom had told them to get it out of the house, because ANOTHER CHURCH was to deliver more gifts that night!!)
    I was furious, and found out later, those kids were on every "angel tree" in town!! Guess that's the way some kids are raised! Little beggers, hands always out...

  • Noah Godwin Jan 9, 2016
    user avatar

    He was just one good apple, and should not reflect the values and behavior of the other police officers.

  • Arron Lee Jan 9, 2016
    user avatar

    Oh, grad student! I might try this next Christmas.

  • Tim Boomhower Jan 9, 2016
    user avatar

    Why all the negativity? As a parent, you want your child to be happy. Christmas is about being thankful for what you have received that inspires a spirit of giving in you to pass it on. Those cops had that spirit. It makes a great story to hear when most news is bad news.
    Yes Christmas is commercialized and the true meaning gets lost in the noise. I for one always remember.

  • ecp1951 Jan 9, 2016

    give me a break. to me it just wreaks of the entitlement mentality. i haven't fulfilled my obligations as a parent to provide for my kids so i will just take what i need for them.

  • Kelly Birdsall Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    I agree Christmas is over commercialized but it still hurts, as a parent to see your children's disappointment at that time of year when other kids are bragging about all they received. At least she loves them. That's a lot more than can be said for some parents. I wish her the best!

  • Charlotte Baggett Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    many years ago, 1988; with an 8 year old and a 2 year old.... one Christmas, they each received a large bicycle gift bag filled with inflated balloons and a library basement sale hardback in the bottom of the bag... I think I spent $6.00 that Christmas..... just stop with all that; "I must buy stuff for my children".... my kids did all right and I doubt that either one of them remember that year....

  • SusanandAaron Tambot-Blankenship Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    Just stop with the need to buy stuff for X-mas.

  • Kevin O'Donnell Jan 8, 2016
    user avatar

    Good story. Congrats to the two officers.

    We need more stories such as this one.