Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Heartless Shoppers Step Over Dying Woman

According to this story in the Wichita Eagle, Wichita police say a convenience store video shows five different people stepping over 27 year old LaShanda Calloway as she lay on the floor dying after being stabbed during an altercation with another woman. The first 911 call was made approximately two minutes later. Calloway is also seen attempting to stand and falling back to the floor three times while customers ignored her to continue their shopping. One woman is seen stepping over the victim four times then pausing to take a picture of Calloway with her cell phone.

This horrific lack of concern for another human being is more common than you might think. Social psychologists call it the “bystander effect.” Studies show that people are more likely to assist someone in trouble when they are alone, and a group of bystanders is less likely to render aid. The larger the group is, the less chance that someone will help. Some of the factors that may contribute to the bystander effect are degree of danger, not knowing what to do, embarrassment, and diffusion of responsibility.

In this day and age many of us are hesitant about stopping to help someone because we may be putting ourselves in danger. Obviously not the case here, as it wasn’t too dangerous to continue shopping and walking around the store. Embarrassment is no excuse, nor is not knowing what to do. What you should do is call 911 immediately. That leaves diffusion of responsibility.

Diffusion of responsibility is when individual members of a group are unwilling to take personal responsibility for acting because the responsibility is shared by all. Therefore, the responsibility of each group member is lower than it would be for each individual. We have all seen this shameful behavior in cases of fan violence, riots, as well as acts of violence against individuals.

Social psychologists may call it diffusion of responsibility. I call it a crime. Every single person who stepped over LaShanda Calloway as she lay dying on the floor should be held legally accountable for not helping her, or at least not stopping to summon help right away. Having no human decency and a lack of personal responsibility should be against the law.

Donna Weaver


Ronni said...

"Having no human decency and a lack of personal responsibility should be against the law."

It is against the law of karma!

Investigator Donna Weaver said...

I hope "what goes around, comes around" for these individuals. I don't know if there is a statute on the books to charge them with. In the article it sounded as though the police are looking in to it. Who knows if that extra 2 minutes could have meant the difference between life and death.

Eyes said...

A client of mine told me of a similarly scary story. He was out to dinner with his wife. He went to the bathroom. When he came back, she was on the floor, blue and choking. The staff all standing around watching.

He immediately gave her the Heimlich maneuver and then promptly asked why no one helped her.

The manager said he called 911, but after that -- he was advised by upper management to not assist out of fear of a lawsuit. He said all they could do was call 911 and wait.

I find this outrageous! How can anyone in good conscious watch this and not respond? I would have been the only person in that restaurant who couldn't have handled watching someone die needlessly. I would have had to step in.

Such a shame what things are coming to!

Investigator Donna Weaver said...

Shameful! How frightening it must have been for the poor woman to be choking in the first place, but to see all those people standing there unwilling to help must have been horrifying. Poor LaShanda Calloway must have felt the same way. I'm with you. Even if I worked there, I wouldn't have hesitated. I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me, if anything, the restaurant's negligence would lie in failure to render aid, instead of giving assistance. It doesn't make sense that the restaurant could be found liable for trying to help a patron, whether or not they are liable for the injury in the first place. It's still revolting behavior any way you look at it.