This is the sort of thing that you often think never could happen in our “civilized” country.
Texas Crowd Kills Man After Car Hits Kid
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Austin, Texas (AP) —
A crowd attacked and killed a passenger in a vehicle that had struck and injured a child, police said Wednesday.
Police believe 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for a Juneteenth celebration when the attack occurred Tuesday night. The man who was killed had been trying to stop the group from attacking the vehicle’s driver when the crowd turned on him, authorities said.
The Austin Police Department identified the victim as David Rivas Morales, 40. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Police spokeswoman Toni Chovonetz said she had no further information, including how many people were involved.
The driver was able to get away from the crowd and is cooperating with investigators, police said.
And this was Austin, not, say, Houston or Dallas. Austin.
Update, June 22: The Austin police have clarified the situation a bit.
About three or four people — not a mob of up to 20 — beat a man to death after the car he was riding in struck and injured a toddler, police said Thursday.
Police backed off earlier descriptions of Tuesday’s attack, also saying that fewer than two dozen people — rather than hundreds — were witnesses.
City officials also said the attack was not connected to the city-sponsored Juneteenth celebration that had just wrapped up nearby, which celebrates the day Texas slaves learned they were freed.
City officials held a news conference to revise their report Wednesday that 2,000 to 3,000 celebrants were in the area when David Rivas Morales, 40, was beaten to death after a car in which he was riding bumped a toddler. The toddler was not seriously hurt.
Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald said almost all the celebrants were blocks away from the public housing complex where the attack occurred. And Assistant Police Chief David Carter said police were wrong on Wednesday when they said up to 20 people may have participated in the attack.
“We’re looking for three or four heinous criminals,” Carter said. “I want to bring them to justice.”
Morales’ neighbors and relatives complained on Wednesday about the time it took an ambulance crew to reach him as he lay in the parking lot, choking on his own blood. Morales reached a hospital about 35 minutes after a 911 call was received, timing that became more difficult to understand given the news that there had been no large crowd in the area.
An anonymous 911 caller who reported the beating to a dispatcher struggled to get the dispatcher to understand her location and described the scene as a gang fight involving people celebrating Juneteenth, according to audio files released by the city. Police said Thursday it was not gang-related.
That forced emergency crews to wait a few blocks away until police were sure the area was under control, said Richard Herrington, director of Austin’s Emergency Medical Services Department. Police, however, previously said it took them just one minute to get to the scene.
Herrington also said traffic in the area delayed the ambulance.
“It’s really congested but the guy’s bleeding from the head pretty bad, if you guys could just mow everybody down to get it through,” a police dispatcher told an emergency medical services dispatcher. “We need you in there ASAP.”
After the crew was cleared by police to move, it took them seven more minutes to get the rest of the way. Jasper Brown, who commands the communications division for the EMS department, said the street next to the parking lot was extremely congested. Vehicles were parked on both sides of the street and both lanes were locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic, he said.
Morales was in cardiac arrest when the crew found him, Herrington said. The crew treated him at the scene for about 12 minutes before rushing him to the hospital.
The family also had criticized police for failing to perform CPR before the ambulance arrived, but Herrington said that could have made Morales’ condition worse.
Authorities on Thursday also released new details about the events leading up to the beating, saying the car’s driver had just dropped off Morales at his sister’s town house when he hit the 2-year-old child. Three or four men confronted the driver, and Morales came to help him, Carter said.
The driver told police he got away in his vehicle before the beating began and didn’t know his friend had been hurt, Carter said. Police have refused to identify the driver because he is a witness. [AP]