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Lessons to be Learned from Viral Video of Assault Caught on Camera at McDonald’s

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Video of an assault at a local McDonalds had a lot of people talking this week. It shows a woman apparently starting a fight over a couple of McChicken sandwiches. While it was a sad situation, there may be lessons we all can learn from what was caught on camera.

21 year-old Valerie Ann Shepherd was charged with assault causing bodily injury. The altercation was captured on cell phone camera by another customer. It shows Shepherd attacking McDonalds employees. WHO-TV reached out to Shepherd to get her side of the story but she said, "My attorney doesn`t want me to speak to anybody."

The incident in question happened Saturday night at the McDonald's at 1345 East Euclid Avenue in Des Moines.

The police report of the incident says a McDonald's employee "stated that two white males and a white female had come into the restaurant and ordered two McChickens." According to the report, the employee "stated that they were short staffed and it was taking a little while...and that the white female came up to the counter and started yelling that she either wanted her food or money back."

Then things got violent.

According to the report, when one of the employees tried to call 911, Shepherd knocked the phone out of her hand and then punched her. 24 year-old Jesse James Downs was also later charged with assault.

"It`s a really unfortunate situation situation and clearly newsworthy that someone captured that and it captures people’s attention," said J Scott Raecker, Director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. "I also think there’s a balance to this that we need to look at."

While horrific and the height of incivility, Raecker says we need to keep the incident in perspective.

"How many actions took place in that same day of people doing really wonderful and great things, treating people well, with great respect, that somebody didn`t pull out their cell phone and capture and even if they had would not necessarily be newsworthy?"

Raecker says it's easy to point the finger at others, but we should use this as a teachable moment.

"We get a capture of a moment in time of that person`s life and that ends up identifying who they are and what they are. We have to remember the humanity of all of us."