Student’s Attack Demands Police Emphasize Crime Prevention
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 14:04
While many students were catching some rays or catching up on their studies over Spring Break, one student was fighting for his life after being brutally assaulted while walking on Decatur St. Thursday, March 1st.
The victim, whose name has been withheld for privacy, was jumped from behind by two black males between the ages of 14 and 17 at approximately 7:30 p.m. when passing the Grab-n-Go hotdog stand across from the Natural Sciences Center. After being struck in the back of the head by the first assailant, he turned to fight and was immediately hit on his right arm and right side of the face by a second individual. The blow temporarily deafened him and blinded his right eye. Despite his injuries, however, the student was able to keep his feet during the attack, eventually ending up propped against a tree.
A minute into the assault the attackers had walked down to the corner of Decatur St. and Central Ave. but then paused. Seeing no intervention from witnesses or passersby, they decided to capitalize on the opportunity for a robbery. One suspect returned, and though the victim was unable to hear what his attacker said, he deciphered from his lip movements that the man was asking what possessions he had on him.
“This is the first time they’ve even mentioned a robbery,” the student said.” It’s an afterthought, I think.”
He told his attacker there was a phone in his pocket, and as the assailant went for it, he fought back. He soon passed out and by the time he’d regained consciousness, the suspects had already run a block down Decatur St. The student stood and began to call out to them, attracting the attention of bystanders, and after running for another block, the suspects slowed to a normal walking pace and escaped into the night.
More than a month after the assault, the victim’s right eye still bears deep bruises from the blow to his eye socket and cheek bone.
“The whole side of my face was crushed,” he says. Reconstructive surgery, which had to wait ten days for swelling could go down, resulted in placement of four titanium plates to hold his face together.
“Some of the bone is just gone. My eye sits on a piece of plastic now,” he relays. And though he was finally able to return to school the first week of April, “I’m still not really back,” he says, intimating that a little more recovery will have to take place before he can fully return to working at his previous level.
The victim feels that the Georgia State Police Department’s response to the incident has been great, though sources close to the situation say this was not initially the case and that it wasn’t until several weeks later, with pressure from the Vice President of Research and the Provost, that police devoted sufficient resources to solving the crime.
Ashley O’Neill, a graduate student in the Center for Inflammation, Immunity & Infection, where the victim studies, says, “The campus alert that was sent out – I didn’t actually get it – but from what I understand, it more or less alluded to [the fact that] it was maybe a robbery; it just wasn’t very accurate at all and didn’t tell how severe the attack was, that this was a really brutal, dangerous thing.”
She feels that because the assault happened on campus at a time not too terribly late into the evening and because the victim was attacked for no apparent reason, all students should have been put on higher alert than they were. She was also very angry that, as a student herself, she never received the campus alert.
On March 15th Sgt. Kristal Perkins, head of the Georgia State Police Crime Prevention Unit, addressed CIII faculty, staff and students in a department-wide meeting that attendees have criticized.
“For some reason, she didn’t understand why she was coming to talk to us,” Ashley states. After the officer finished relaying typical safety awareness tips, Ashley raised her hand and informed Sgt. Perkins that the student was attacked, not robbed.
“She didn’t know that,” Ashley says. “And when we got further into the discussion, she was having trouble recalling the details of what happened. I don’t know if the police report itself was inaccurate or the information she received was inaccurate, but in any case, she didn’t know what had happened, she didn’t know the severity of it. And that upset everyone in my department, especially [the student’s faculty mentor].”
Since then, the actions of campus police in the case have been much better.
“I’m very happy with the response I’ve gotten from the police here,” the victim states, praising their efforts at bringing the resources of the State to bear.
“However, I do have issues with the lack of crime prevention, specifically with the [surveillance] cameras.” Though the attack itself was not caught on video, cameras did capture the suspects fleeing the crime scene. Due to poor quality and resolution, however, no facial features, hairstyles, or other identifying details of the assailants can be seen. The victim feels that this is simply unacceptable.
“The cameras on campus are just deplorable. I don’t know how you could use footage from those cameras to find anybody! I have a better camera in my MacBook Pro…. For [the Georgia State police] to even posit that this is preventing crime is just ludicrous!”
He is also angered by the fact that students in particular are likely to be singled out as crime victims.
“We’re soft targets,” he states. “We can’t carry guns, we’re not given the means to defend ourselves, and the criminals know this…. Students can’t protect themselves, they often have electronics – if I were a criminal, this is where I’d be.” All the more reason, he emphasizes, why crime prevention on campus is so critical.