Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mob justice in Austin? I don't get it.

Something like this shouldn't happen anywhere, but especially not in my city! This is just scary:
A group of men fatally beat a passenger in a car that police said accidentally struck a child outside an East Austin apartment complex, police said today.

As many as 3,000 people were in the area following a Juneteenth celebration at the time, officials said. Austin police Cmdr. Harold Piatt estimated that dozens were in the parking lot of the Booker T. Washington apartment complex at the time and that preliminary information shows no witnesses apparently tried to prevent or stop the attack.

"At this point, we aren't aware that any person did anything to stop the assault or prevent the injuries," he said.

Piatt said investigators are still trying to question people who might have seen the attack.

Police said officers responded to a "person down" call at 9:30 p.m. and that when they arrived, they found David Rivas Morales, 40, with trauma to his body. He was taken to Brackenridge Hospital and pronounced dead.

Investigators said the assault apparently occurred after the driver of the car struck a child in a parking lot at 900 Thompson St. The child, a 4-year-old girl, was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Witnesses told investigators that a group of men assaulted Morales when he stepped out of the car to try to stop the crowd from assaulting the driver, who had gotten out of the car. Piatt said it was unclear if the driver was aware he'd struck the child.

The driver, whose name has not been released, was able to leave the area in the car. Police later found him and the car.

"This is an anomaly for Austin, Piatt said. "When you have someone just beaten to death in a parking lot."
I guess not all the information and evidence is in yet--when I first read the headline, I just assumed an angry mob had killed a drunk driver who carelessly ran down a child. Apparently, the child was not badly injured, and the man beaten to death wasn't the driver, so this is not a stereotypical vigilante or mob rule sort of thing. The driver seems like a jackass, as I don't understand how you can hit a child with your car--even glancingly--anbd not notice. I really don't get the motivation to beat his passenger to death.

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