This is one of the most disturbing local stories I’ve seen in a long time. A 15-year old girl was targeted by a group of other teens at Westlake Center. She and her friend went down to the Metro Transit tunnel to try to get away from the group. Once on the tunnel platform, they approached the security guards to try to get some assistance or protection from the group that was following them.
The guards, however, did nothing — even when the group arrived and one of the teens was attacked, shoved off the platform (thankfully, no buses or trains were present), followed back onto the platform, knocked to the ground, and then repeatedly kicked in the head until she was left unconscious.
Here’s a local news report with security footage of the attack. This is not pleasant to watch.
There are so many things to be outraged at.
Apparently, the ‘security’ people are contract workers, authorized only to “observe and report” suspicious activity and attacks. This has been the standard party line from Olympic Security and from a number of other officials commenting on the incident, and their protestations of being “extremely disappointed” in the security guards just doesn’t compensate.
The girl approached the guards and requested assistance. Instead, they turned away from her. She tried to keep one of the guards between her and her attacker, and neither that guard nor either of his partners made any attempt to intervene or do anything except the contractually required radio call to the police. One guard actually walks away during the attack. Ten blows to the head and six kicks to the head later, they continue to watch as the attacker comes back for a final kick to the head.
There is no excuse, not even the “observe and report” language in the contract, that justifies the guards behavior in this instance.
They could have paid attention to the girl about to be attacked. They could have worked together to form a barrier between her and the group of teens. They could have surrounded her to keep her attacker away. They could have moved to block her attacker from coming back for that final kick. They could have made any number of non-aggressive attempts to intervene that would not have involved directly contacting any of the group of teens threatening the girl.
Futhermore, thanks to Washington’s “Good Samaritan” law, at the very least, they could have assisted her after the attack without fear of liability, instead of standing around her unconscious body. Even more importantly, according to this article, Washington has had a “Good Samaritan” law on the books since 2005 that “makes it a misdemeanor offense to fail to assist a person who has suffered substantial bodily harm, provided that the person could reasonably summon assistance without danger to himself or herself.” Unfortunately, I’m currently having trouble finding the exact language of the referenced statute.
Of course, that brings up a second point. The witness interviewed in the above video describes standing there, watching the attack, and wondering, “Why doesn’t anybody do something?” Well, lady? Why not? Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t anyone else do something? Why didn’t any of the other people on the platform do something? I’m not even talking about physically restraining the attacker or accosting any of the rest of the group, just get close, surround the victim, get some sort of barrier between her and her attacker.
Don’t wait for someone else to do something, because they’re all doing the same thing.
This whole thing is just disgusting.
Another troubling aspect to this that I’d thought a little about, but was brought up in a comment on the LiveJournal mirror of this post (which, unfortunately, appears to have been eaten when I updated this post with the news reports below):
A bigger problem, however, is that this incident has shown to everyone just how powerless the security guards are, so I would imagine that if people are inclined to commit violence against someone else at the bus stop, they know they an do it now without ANY fear of retribution.
Exactly. Given what we’ve seen, just what is the function of the “security” guards? And what’s to prevent more frequent and more severe attacks from happening, now that it’s been made abundantly clear just how little protection these guards actually provide?
King County Metro Transit will change its security policy in the Downtown Transit Tunnel after a surveillance video showed a 15-year-old girl beaten in front of three security guards who didn’t intervene to help her, an agency official said Wednesday.
In the meantime, county officials have called for a full review of tunnel security practices.
On Wednesday, prosecutors filed first-degree robbery charges in King County Superior Court against Latroy Demarcus Hayman, 20, Tyrone Jamez Watson, 18, and Dominique Lee Whitaker, 18. A 15-year-old girl was also charged in juvenile court.
Speaking with detectives, the girl said she’d expected the guards to come to her aid.
“I thought the security guards would defend me if (the 15-year-old) tried anything,” the girl said, according to court documents.
Following the attack, the girl said the same Seattle police officers who’d contacted her previously refused to take action.
Admittedly agitated, the girl said she tried to tell the officers she’d been assaulted, according to court documents. When they did not assist her, she called her mother.
Her mother arrived at the scene, the girl told detectives, and contacted the officers on her daughter’s behalf.
“They told my mom that they were tired of all these kids downtown causing trouble,” the girl told police.
“It seemed like (one) officer put us all in one category,” the girl continued. “We were fed up with Seattle police but we wanted to press charges. It didn’t seem like the officers were (ever) interested in hearing my side of what happened.”