Vargas: A woman beaten unconscious, witnesses take selfies with her motionless body


In a scene that has stirred outrage and concern across the country, an unidentified woman is kicked and punched by an attacker. She falls to the ground unconscious. As she lays there, in desperate need of help, a group of pedestrians photograph and videotape her with their cell phone cameras.

The entire scene was captured by a surveillance camera.

No one renders aid. No one calls police.

According to CBS reporter Marty Griffin, a source alleged the young men stole the woman’s cell phone and one even laid down next to her and took a selfie.

The scene is disgusting but a testament to life on the streets in many of our communities. Police officers run across scenes like this everyday. It happens on urban streets, homeless encampments and even in suburbia.

This attack just happened to be caught on surveillance camera.

It might cause you to wonder what has happened to our sense of decency and what direction our moral compass is pointing in. But it’s not really something new.

In 1964, America was shocked when Kitty Genovese was stabbed, raped and murdered in Queens, New York. It even gave rise to the term “bystander effect.” The shocking details of the case made many question the degradation of our collective compassion.

Decades later, this type of brutality and indifference now has entertainment value. Here, a woman is injured. Maybe even critically. Her suffering has apparent entertainment value for somebody to consider posting it to someone’s social media feed.

We’ve all seen the videos.

A tragedy occurs and instead of rendering aid people whip out cell phones and record and broadcast the unfolding heartbreak for all to see.

A cop is struggling with a suspect in desperate need of help and bystanders are too intent on filming the encounter to offer any kind of help.

Is it no longer in our nature to think of helping people first?

In this case, the reporter, Marty Griffin, with the help of the police, is able to track down the victim.

She is discovered to be a drug addict. With the assistance of the victim’s mother and police, Griffin gets her into a rehab facility.

She is now getting the help she needs.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Captain. He can be reached at