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Teen boys protect woman and kids from crazy attack — but did they take it too far?

February 15, 2013

A recent case in Florida shines a blood-red spotlight on the slippery slope between the justified use of force and criminal behavior.

It involves three male teens. Male teens are driven by testosterone-fueled combustion engines. That can be a benefit, and that can be a liability. Here are the details: (Read the full report in the Tampa Bay Times.)


The accused, after a beat-down. Photo copyright Pasco County Sheriff.

Insanity in Action: Attack on Children

During sunset at a Florida park, the crazed-looking man to the left declared himself to be President Obama and insisted he was on a mission from God to cleanse the world of drug dealers and prostitutes. Unfortunately, a young mother and two toddlers were standing nearby, climbing on playground equipment.

The man approached the three, calling the 4-year-old daughter a prostitute and the three-year-old nephew a drug dealer. The young mother scooped up both kids and tried to make an exit, but the man tried to grab both toddlers from the woman’s protective grasp, tugging on their hair and arms.

That’s when three male teens peeled off from a nearby group and quickly approached the scene. They surrounded the mother and her children, forming a barrier between them and the suspect’s insane actions.

The mom and children were able to jump into a car and get away, thanks in part to the bravery of the teens. They used their natural bravado to prevent what could have been a major tragedy. And for that, they are to be applauded as examples of good citizenship. They were heroes. But there’s more to this story.

The Attack on the Suspect

The suspect in this case left the park, but he later called police from his home to report that he’d been beaten by a group of teens. The mug shot above seems to be proof. The police say they have no legitimate connection between the teens who saved the woman and the teens who beat the man. They say the suspect’s statement was too incoherent to gather evidence.

But it makes you wonder. Why did the teens allow the suspect to leave the park? They surely had cell phones, and they could have called the authorities, reported the incident, restrained the man and put him into the legal system. But that didn’t happen. The man ended up in his home with head and face contusions.

Again, the teens who protected the woman have not been charged with any crime. (The suspect, on the other hand, is charged with attempted kidnapping.) But if they did in fact beat the suspect, they did so after the threat to the woman and children had passed. It’s possible that the suspect attacked the teens and they were defending themselves. It’s also possible that they decided to take revenge on the man and deliver their own form of justice.

Criminal Behavior is Not Self Defense

I know many readers of this blog will applaud that, but we can’t cleanse the world of criminals by becoming criminals ourselves. If the same teens who protected the women and children are the same teens who beat the suspect, then they probably did it as sport. In that case, they would be guilty of assault and battery. They would have turned themselves from heroes to villians.

Fight-Back Files is based on the principle that it’s sometimes necessary to use harsh and damaging force to protect yourself or someone else from the injustice of the world. But beating somebody for sport is not self defense. Beating someone for sport on the street  — as opposed to fighting in a ring with the intent of winning a contest — is simply a crime.

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