Poor judgement on display

Published 2:55 pm Monday, May 10, 2004

By Staff
They may not feel fortunate, having been arrested and no doubt taken endlessly to task by now, but the young men and women jailed for attacking a 15-year-old in some bizarre local display of vigilante justice early last month are indeed lucky.
Their victim escaped without any life-threatening injuries, so they're only being charged with assault, not with manslaughter or murder.
But the huge gap between what has happened and what might have been is just dumb luck. If only one blow had fallen differently during the incident, we might be dealing with a much more serious case here.
And the lives of many of the young adults involved might well have been effectively over, rather than just seriously damaged.
The criminal investigation that led to last week's arrest of seven teenaged adults and one juvenile began when the Escambia County Sheriff's Office got a report that a local kid had been beaten up by a group of young men and women on April 5.
The 15-year-old who was assaulted -- his name is being withheld because of his age -- said that he had been picked up by people he called friends one afternoon and driven to Murder Creek Road, where a crowd had gathered, apparently in anticipation of the scene that was about to unfold.
According to sheriff's office reports, the 15-year-old was then beaten up by a combination of people who'd driven him there, and people who had originally shown up just to watch, but instead wound up getting in on the action.
The lopsided brawl is reported to have taken place in retaliation for an alleged earlier incident, in which the kid who was beaten beaten up himself assaulted an adult woman on Pea Ridge Road.
Whatever the case, this incident serves as an example of what happens when hot-headed thinking prevails, overriding any sense of better judgement the participants might otherwise have relied upon.
Actually, it paints a best-case-scenario of such circumstances. Again, no one was maimed or killed, and thus there's still the chance that no young lives will be damaged beyond repair.
Oddly enough, just as news of the beating incident was getting out, a group of teens from Miller and Neal High Schools were exercising judgement on the opposite end of the spectrum, serving as jurors in a criminal case during local Law Day activities. In an orderly courtroom setting, the found one of their peers, a man close to their own age, guilty of drug possession.
The world young people inhabit isn't all that much different from that of adults. Some go off half-cocked, making life-altering bad choices. Others live calmly within the system, operating by the rule of law and seeking whatever justice they require in a law-abiding fashion.
Hopefully, the kids involved in the beating incident will come to realize which camp they're best served by being in.

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