On Tuesday, November 1st, the News Tribune and KIRO-TV 7 in Tacoma, Washington, reported that a man who hit a 7-year-old boy who was trick-or-treating in Tacoma’s North Slope neighborhood was charged Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court with vehicular assault.
The 38 year old suspect was arrested Halloween night after neighbors kept him from fleeing the scene where he hit the boy who was out trick or treating at North Ninth and North I streets.
The boy was crossing the street holding his father’s hand when he was hit. His father was brushed by the car, but not injured. The boy was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in critical condition with a fractured skull, missing teeth and bruises from head to toe. He remained in critical condition as of this writing.
The driver told officers he got off work and had been drinking before heading home. He also said he had smoked marijuana. He explained to officers he was going home when the child ran out in front of his car.
Witnesses gave a different account. A woman who was driving north on North I Street said she stopped her car at the intersection to let a group of people cross. Then she saw the car hit the child. The car continued a bit before stopping. She jumped in front of the stopped car to keep it from leaving the scene.
Another neighbor used his firearm to stop the driver from running away. “I knew something had to be wrong,” he told KING 5 TV. “I basically did a citizen’s arrest.”
Fine job. Making a citizen’s arrest to stop the criminal from leaving the scene, is a reasonable thing to do. As he was there, saw and heard information that this jerk had struck a child, we applaud his action.
The difficulty only appears when you misinterpret the scenario when you didn’t see it from start to finish or another party tells you what happened.
Suppose you came upon this at the end but didn’t actually see it happen? The question would be – what if the driver runs? Would you or could you shoot him? The danger is that civilians don’t have qualified immunity if they misread the incident.
Police have immunity because we require them to jump in to stop apparent crimes. Civilians have no such requirement. They can call the police!