The death of a teenager that a crowd of 50 chose not to help

Law enforcement officers and law-abiding citizens alike are appalled by the scene surrounding a 16-year-old’s death in Nassau County, New York in September.  The high school student was beaten, and stabbed in the chest, as a crowd of 50-plus kids recorded his murder with their cellphones, some posting the video on social media as it happened, or shortly after… the taking of a child’s life and him dying, essentially all alone, on the hard surface of a parking lot.  He was Khaseen Morris, a student like them, a son, a nephew, a friend, a human being.

The cellphones these kids used to videotape this horrific act of violence meant that the ability to dial 911 was literally at their fingertips.  If these kids didn’t think they were capable of intervening and stopping this attack, they certainly had the ability within their reach, within their hands to call for help.

Police have since arrested the suspect, Tyler Flach, 18, and charged him with second-degree murder.   It is my hope that that is not the only arrest.  Investigators owe it to the victim, his family, and the community to look deeper into this homicide scene and determine if any bystanders should be charged with infractions or crimes.   They contributed to the frenzy by cheering on the attacker and videotaping instead of separating themselves from the situation and calling for help.  There were stores open for business nearby where they could have also run for help.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, where bystanders have done nothing.   In 1964, 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was stabbed outside her apartment building in New York while nearly 40 people saw or heard the attack and not even one of them called police or raced to her rescue.

In Salinas, California – on August 7, 2018, a man in his late 30s, along with a 21-year-old, knocked a 14-year-old boy off his bike, hit him numerous times in the head and face, all the while a crowd of onlookers captured the attack on Snapchat video.  The attackers’ kicks and punches coming so fast, all the boy could do was curl up on the ground and protect his head with arms and hands.  The teen survived and the attackers are just now being sentenced to prison.

What kind of adults will these kids grow up to be?  What kind of guidance and moral values are being taught at home?  What kind of message are they receiving from teachers, city, state and country leaders?   How can we do right by this generation of kids who have grown up with violence on their cellphones, computers, gaming stations, in their homes and on the streets?  The violence that took Khaseen Morris’ life didn’t seem to faze them.  How do we impress humanity and the sanctity of human life?  These are questions we need to be asking ourselves.

Certainly we are not asking bystanders to put themselves in harm’s way,  we are simply asking them to call for help, be good witnesses, be good Samaritans, be respectful of human life  – posting attacks on individuals on social media is shameful.