“I didn’t think much of the charcoal gray SUV that pulled over when I was walking up 16th St. until I heard the screams of the woman trying to get out of the passenger door.”

by Prince Of Petworth December 2, 2015 at 10:10 am 128 Comments


A reader shares this incredibly upsetting incident:

“I didn’t think much of the charcoal gray SUV that pulled over when I was walking up 16th St. until I heard the screams of the woman trying to get out of the passenger door. I ran towards the woman who screamed at me, “my husband beats me every day! Call 911!” And as I got closer I could see why she was screaming and trying to get out of the car. The driver was pummeling her and an infant in the backseat was wailing. I try to grab her arm but her husband is too fast and yanks her in the car and locks the door. But shutting the door does little to muffle the screams coming from the woman and the baby in the backseat. And I can see the man and his fists and arms flying.

So I do the only thing I can do and the very least I think common human decency requires. I step in front of the SUV and photograph the license plate and stand in front of the car so the abuser can’t drive away while I dial 911. But because my phone is a computer and not a phone I can’t get through but I’m not too worried about it because I know someone else is seeing this and surely they are calling 911. So I ditch the call and start beating the windshield with my umbrella to try and get the guy to lay off. He tires of that quickly and is ready to flee but I’m still planted in front of him so he does exactly what you’d expect. He starts driving into me and tries to pry me out of his path by threatening to run me over. But here’s the thing asshole: you are going to have to run me over if you think I’m letting you get away before the police get here. Because I am my sister’s keeper.

And because I am screaming and waving my arms and begging for help while this guy slowly pushes me with his car down 16th St. I just know help is on the way. Because surely there is at least one decent person, maybe even a handful, who must have called 911 by now. I know if I can just keep him there, the police will arrive and that woman and that child will be out of harm’s way. The problem is that I am only one person and I can’t block him from going forwards and backwards and he eventually realizes he’s not getting past me so he throws his car in reverse and is gone.

And I am standing in the middle of the road in the rain and it’s clear that help is not on the way. So I call 911 again and I relay what happened with the urgency I felt the situation warranted. And I wait for the police and they do not come and I see a Metro PD car and I wave him down but he does not stop which I tell myself is okay because maybe he’s pursuing the SUV but he’s not. His lights aren’t on, his siren isn’t on, he isn’t in a hurry.

If the Metro PD was interested in my eyewitness account, the photo of the license plate, or the partial video taken by an onlooker who caught the last part of the incident on tape, they haven’t expressed it to me. And I don’t know if I’m angrier at the PD for their apathetic response to this situation or the fact that not one single person stopped to help or intervene in any way. Actually, that’s not true. I’m know I’m angrier at the people who walked by and did nothing. I’m angrier at the cars that drove by as I frantically waved them down. Because what I know is that a man who pulls over to pummel his wife on a public street in front of god and everybody metes out abuse 10 times worse when he’s in the privacy of his own home. And I’m certain that woman and her child are still in harm’s way. And if we as a community are willing to turn a deaf ear to a woman pleading for help when her husband is beating her, then we are fucked and we are lying when we say we are our brother’s keeper. Here is what I believe: we are, all of us, charged with walking one another home during the course of our shared time on this planet. And I don’t think we’re walking the talk. I should know by now to never, ever underestimate human beings and their capacity to disappoint, but humans really let me down today. You too Metro PD. This is the fourth time this year I’ve been personally involved as a witness or a victim in an assault. Not one has been handled correctly. @DCPoliceDept #DCPoliceDept”

Update from OP: “The Lt. in the domestic violence unit is now actively working the case.”

  • anon

    Really impressive tale of standing up for a stranger in trouble. Sad that it didn’t end better. Don’t let it change your attitude OP.

    • Patrick Division

      Hate to say it, but OP absolutely SHOULD let this incident color her response to reporting criminal activity in DC. She’s exceedingly lucky that she wasn’t shot/killed/run over by the perpetrator, and MPD wouldn’t care any more about her demise than it cares about the initial report, or any other crime that requires their “services.”

    • MorgaNado

      +1 Good for HER! The Nay-Sayers are why we, as a society, have become entitled, bad neighbors. I hope she follows through to contribute as a witness in a court of law.

      Silly Nay-Sayers!

  • textdoc

    I sympathize with the OP’s frustration, but… how were people who didn’t see/hear the woman screaming and trying to get out of the car supposed to know what was going on, and that they ought to have called 911? IMO, the OP should have stayed on the line to 911.
    From the photo above — and from the video — it’s not at all apparent to an onlooker what’s going on. In the video, it looks like some kind of strange pedestrian/driver dispute, not a situation of “This driver is beating his wife and the pedestrian is trying to stop him, so obviously I should call 911.”

    • dcd

      This was my reaction, too.

      • U Streeter

        Agreed. A few weeks ago, I had a crazy pedestrian confront me for smiling at her as I was trying to pull out of a driveway. (Not a creepy thing – I’m a woman.) Apparently she was somehow offended that I had smiled because “her life is worth more than a smile” and I could have hit her with my car. (I was going like a mile an hour and gave her the right of way and stopped before the sidewalk so she could walk in front of my car before I pulled out.) I mean, bottom line: woman was nuts. She followed me out into the street screaming and cursing and threatening me. (I was stopped at a light.) And there were all these pedestrians walking by trying to act like they didn’t see this because, I mean, woman was clearly nuts and no one in their right mind would want to redirect that at themselves. When I saw the video, that was what I thought of.

        • dcd

          Agreed. The impression the video gives is of a crazy woman whacking a car with her umbrella and preventing it from leaving, while the driver is trying to get away. (And even giving the side of the car a gratuitous whack as it finally pulls away.) Now, that’s obviously not what happened. But it’s also not – at first blush – a situation that requires intervention by passersby.

    • topscallop

      Right. And did the OP ask passers-by to call 911? Or to help in any way? Hopefully the police respond to this and get the license plate number from her, and her statement directly. Although I do understand the frustration, my experience with DC cops recently has been that they have been responsive and respectful. The cop that she talked to directly absolutely should have taken her statement, and it’s impressive that she put herself physically in a dangerous situation to try to help someone, but it would have been wiser probably to stay on the line with 911, tell them the plate number and what she saw, and let them handle it.

      • 26.2

        Read the OP’s post again…she was begging passers by to help and call 911.

        • topscallop

          You’re right, I guess I read it too quickly. It is disappointing that no one stepped in to help. I know that I would call 911 if someone asked me to in a similar situation, at the very least.

    • Nicky

      Here is what she did.
      “I am screaming and waving my arms and begging for help while this guy slowly pushes me with his car.”
      “I’m angrier at the cars that drove by as I frantically waved them down.”
      If you need more details than a screaming woman being pushed by a car for you to intervene, then her concluding point is quite relevant.

      • I think many / most people in that scenario would look at that video and think it’s just another crazy person in DC harassing someone. If anything they would probably call to report the lady, not the driver, and that’s if they even bothered to look given the heavy rain conditions yesterday.

        • Nicky

          Then help the person being harassed!

    • holly

      I’d hope that some people would still call 911 if they saw the situation described (woman standing in road screaming for an extended period of time, car trying to inch over her) even if they just thought it was a bizarre pedestrian dispute it seems like bad news the police should know about

      • Leslie

        I’ve called 911 about parking disputes that are about to turn physical (screaming, threats, etc.). People get shot for far less than stealing a parking spot.

    • Q

      I cannot BELIEVE that the second comment on this post is Monday-morning quarterbacking what the OP what s/he SHOULD have done. Humanity’s capacity to disappoint indeed. In a situation like this, I doubt I would be quick-thinking enough to do half of what this person did. OP, you give me a glimmer of hope in humanity. Thank you for doing what you did.

      • lm41


      • Anonomnom

        +1. This. I was startled by that, and sadly reinforces OP’s general disappointments with humanity today.

      • dcd

        People on OP’s Facebook page genuflected at her enough to satisfy anyone – I’m sure she won’t be shattered by a gentle suggestion of a different way she could have gone about this. But, I for one am very sorry to have disappointed you. I hope your day improves.

      • Duponter

        I think the propensity to tell her what she did wrong is precisely because her story is how everyone else did things wrong by not reacting. People are simply trying to point out why that was the case, not tell her she was wrong for doing what she did.

    • textdoc

      Perhaps I should have phrased that as “IMO, it would have been better if the OP had stayed on the line to 911,” rather than “IMO, the OP should have stayed on the line to 911.”
      The OP is full of indignation toward other bystanders for their (supposedly) not calling 911 when she herself ditched her in-progress call to 911. That rubs me the wrong way.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Not me. If I am standing in front of a vehicle whose driver is beating on somebody and threatening to hit me, the last thing I want to do is divert my attention from the immediate threat to f*ck around with my phone. I think physically intervening and calling the police are basically an either/or or a now/later proposition – it would be absolutely insane to try to do both at the same time.

      • HaileUnlikely

        That said, I have no idea what this situation looked like from the perspective of somebody passing by, and thus have no basis to criticize others for what they did or didn’t do. But in the abstract, I don’t think abandoning a phone call in the midst of an imminent physical threat that requires full attention to deal with makes it unfair for her to criticize bystanders who were not involved in the active situation who did not call 911, if it really was clear to them that there was a legitimate need to call 911 (i.e., if we take her assertion that she shouted “call 911” to people who were present and in all likelihood heard her)

        • textdoc

          Hmm… she mentions “screaming and waving my arms and begging for help,” but I’m not clear that she ever specifically called out “Call 911!” to bystanders who would have been able to hear her.
          Bystander apathy is definitely something to be alarmed by, in cases where people can clearly see what’s going on and fail to call 911 (or, worse still, if someone directs them to call 911 and they ignore the request). But I suspect this situation was nowhere near as clear-cut to other bystanders — especially people in cars — as it was to the OP. So the OP’s frustration is understandable, but her fury seems misplaced.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I mainly wonder about the bystander who took the video…

  • andrew

    DAMN. :-/

  • DC

    So sorry to hear this and welcome to DC, a lawless city. I have had 911 ignore me or refuse to send anyone out on numerous occassions involving violence and large drug deals involving numerous cars and what looked like kilos of heroin being loaded up.

  • Jack5

    It is NEVER a good idea to stand in front of a car unless you want to get seriously endangered. You also can end up escalating a dangerous situation by being agressive against an already agitated person. The correct response would be to photograph the car’s plate from a safe location and then to call the cops. You cannot stop a car with your body, which should be obvious to most people, but still people think standing in front of a car is somehow effective?

    • KenyonDweller

      Right. I have a relative by marriage who died doing this.

    • HaileUnlikely

      There is no such thing as a “correct” response. That is a value judgment and is not factual in nature. The OP would have been much less likely to suffer physical harm if he or she had done what you suggest than by doing what he or she did, but I’m not sure whether minimizing his or her own risk of harm was the OP’s goal there.

      • FridayGirl

        +1. My view was that OP risked her life to possibly save another’s. I am very worried about the woman and the infant in this situation and hope that they are found and provided with a safe place to stay, medical care, and assistance getting back on their feet. I applaud OP in this situation, even if standing in front of the car was not the smartest.

      • Jack5

        We often observe these kinds of situations in DC. You cannot defend others effectively by adding yourself to the already dangerous situation. There are also factots we don’t know, like the male could possibly be trying to save the woman from a suicide attempt, or he could be fleeing from someone trying to harm all of them in a drug conflict. By making yourself another potential victim in a conflict, you can also increase criminal charges for the perp, which can cause them to be more enraged and fearful which will drive them to endanger people more in their attempts to flee. If you are reasonably able to help, do so in a safer manner, but regardless, never stand in front or behind an agitated person driving a car!

        • Lurker

          Love it when Jack5 chimes in!

        • HaileUnlikely

          I honestly agree with most of that, but what is the “right” thing to do is 100% subjective, is not factual in nature, and by definition cannot be “correct” or “incorrect” unless you start from declaring that your values are the “correct” ones, values in conflict with yours are the “incorrect” ones, and proceed from there.

          • Jack5

            Just check out videos on youtube of domestic disputes/incidents when people stand in front of a car. They usually always go bad… Proof enough for me! :)

          • HaileUnlikely

            I do not know what I would have done in such a situation. If I were a witness, I would be very much torn between wanting to help versus not wanting to make my wife a 30-something widow. However, if it were my wife being assaulted, I really wish I could count on somebody to actively help her and not just call police who in all likelihood will take at least 5 minutes to arrive, during which time she could be seriously injured or killed. There is no perfect answer here, not even a good one, much less a correct one. With the sole exception of completely ignoring the whole thing and going on with your day, all possible courses of action have large potential pros and large potential cons.

        • FridayGirl

          “like the male could possibly be trying to save the woman from a suicide attempt,”
          Ha. It sounds like someone hasn’t personally witnessed domestic abuse……

  • Oh my goodness – I hope that woman is OK and I am sorry the response was sadly typical anymore. You’re a good person and did more than almost anyone would do. Maybe you gave that woman the strength to get help if she can, if even just for her poor child.

  • also anon

    Can we focus our anger towards MPD and 911 slow response and ineffectiveness? This whole situation makes me sick and I’m glad the OP intervened but you don’t know what everyone else around you did or didn’t do. I doubt I personally would have put myself in danger like you did but it’s possible people around you called 911 as well and you don’t know.
    MPD should have come sooner and they didn’t. Calling 911 should have worked the first time and it didn’t. Those are the things we should be upset about- not that other people didn’t stand in front of a car like you did.
    I hope the increased attention helps this woman (and others suffering in the same situation).

    • textdoc


    • anon


      Instead of telling the poster what she should not have done, let’s focus on what the cops SHOULD have done. I am terrified of the lack of response/time to contact the police in this city. This story is a terrible example of this. And with a child in the car? This is terrible on so many levels.

    • You can’t really fault them for slow response if the person couldn’t figure out how to operate their phone and so they decided not to make the call.

      • FridayGirl

        Wow, justinbc. I usually agree with your rather blunt statements as I myself am rather blunt, but this post says nothing about phone operation. I’ve tried to make many calls in DC where the reception isn’t there. And there are several accounts on PoPville in the past of people calling 911 and not getting through for 5+ minutes. Let’s not jump to conclusions.

        • textdoc

          FridayGirl, it’s not clear to me whether this was a case of the OP not knowing how to operate her phone (as Justin puts it), but the OP did say this:
          “I step in front of the SUV and photograph the license plate and stand in front of the car so the abuser can’t drive away while I dial 911. But because my phone is a computer and not a phone I can’t get through but I’m not too worried about it because I know someone else is seeing this and surely they are calling 911. So I ditch the call and start beating the windshield with my umbrella to try and get the guy to lay off.”

        • She says “because my phone is a computer and not a phone I can’t get through”. Unless she’s actually carrying around a computer for some reason this sounds like a tangential rant about technology and fumbling around for getting a connection. I could be totally wrong, but assuming she called 911 and got a busy signal or some incapable operator I think she would have used a very different phrase to describe what happened.

          • And before someone exaggerates what I’m saying, good on her for trying to do something at all, but please don’t place the blame on a slow 911 response time if in fact no call to 911 was made by her.

          • also anon

            I read that as she tried to call 911 but couldn’t get through (got a busy signal or something to that effect).

          • eva

            I honestly read this as she was trying to skype 911 from an ipad or something ie she has a device that doesn’t actually function as a phone.

          • FridayGirl

            I read it as “technology doesn’t always work” (as a landline phone might)

      • Nicky

        ” So I call 911 again and I relay what happened with the urgency I felt the situation warranted.”

    • FridayGirl


  • KP

    Regardless of whether or not it was the safest course of action, OP was trying to help someone in trouble and she should be commended. And according to her post, she was screaming for help and trying to flag down other cars. I’ve never seen a parking dispute that looks like that. MPD is constantly telling the public to call 911 if something doesn’t seem right – this is a perfect example.

    • jennifer

      I completely agree. thank you for caring and for trying to help. please don’t change.

    • JT

      Agree completely.

    • Leslie

      Right. Even if it was a parking dispute, something was seriously off.

    • sunnytime


  • Update from OP: “The Lt. in the domestic violence unit is now actively working the case.”

    • I hope we can get another update when that bastard is arrested and the wife/child are safe.

      • petworther

        While you might like that, it is almost certainly not in the interest of the victim to have the case publicized like that.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    It seems as though 911 is now utterly ineffective here. I hope that if I or any of my friends or loved ones are ever in dire need of police or medical assistance, that they’re in some jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia at the time. And the saddest thing is that our leadership clearly does not care.

  • dat

    Props to the OP for stepping up and stepping in. Was doing so dangerous and reckless? Yes. Was it her decision and did she clearly have the best intention in so doing? No question.

    I would also encourage the OP to try to press charges herself against the driver for assault.

  • I’m crying at my desk right now. Mostly out of the same anger and frustration that the OP expresses and the terrible fear that we are somehow so broken as a society that we can no longer be counted on to uphold the basic safety of our neighbors. OP, thank you for reaffirming my faith in humanity a little. And I’m cheering you and those survivors on as the DV unit starts work on this case!

  • Anon

    Maybe the link to the video should be removed? It goes to the OP’s Facebook page and I worry for her safety/privacy with this dangerous guy. Obviously up to OP but just a thought.

    Thank you, OP, for trying to help the woman and her child this morning.

  • NW_Sammy

    This “not my problem” mentality is so bad even those tasked with protecting and serving the public have it. SMH…

    • Kingman Park

      It’s the group mentality. There are so many people around everyone thinks someone else will help.

  • shaw

    I found out recently that 911 is not actually staffed by police dispatchers, but instead by regular civilians. The 911 facility even shares a room with 311 – so the same people who are apathetic about your pothole repair request are the ones answering calls when you (or someone around you) are in possibly one of the worst life-or-death moments of your life. Now THAT is scary.
    Does anybody know why the system is set up in such a horrible, ineffective manner? Anybody want to email their city councilman today and ask them to change it? I think having an actual police dispatcher answering that call may have produced a different outcome.

    • katemc

      And moreover, the dispatchers speak only English. If you call and speak Spanish, you are transferred to a translator who is not a 911 dispatcher or, presumably, even in DC. On jury duty, I heard a recording of a 911 call that we timed at taking about 7 minutes to transfer, and then the translator couldn’t figure out the intersection that someone DC-based would have understood.

    • JS

      I take it you’re not familiar with 911 dispatch systems. It’s very common to have civilian employees working as call takers/dispatchers. Also, just because 911 and 311 share a facility does not mean that the same employees handle both types of calls. It’d be EXTREMELY out of the ordinary to have non-certified folks handling dispatch for 911 service calls.

    • JS

      Not sure why my previous post disappeared – but the short of it is, it’s quite common to have civilian call takers and dispatchers (the two roles are separate). They’re still employees of the police department, just in a non-sworn capacity. I doubt that 311 operators are also serving as 911 dispatchers/call takers, as the latter requires significantly more training.

      • anon

        In DC the call takers and dispatchers are not part of the police department. They are a separate agency called the “Office of Unified Communication”, and a huge part of the problem with 911 response in this city. I can’t count the number of times citizens gave critical information to the call taker and it wasn’t relayed correctly (if at all) to MPD units on the street.

  • PetworthPanda

    Anyone who’s taken an intro psych class has probably heard about the Kitty Genovese case. She was being killed and begging for help but no one that heard or saw it did anything. Why? Because we assume that someone will get involved even if we don’t. It’s called bystander apathy. Unless you specifically point at someone and tell them to do something, it probably won’t happen. Very sad phenomenon. Very sad story here.

    • Anon Spock

      The apathy in the Kitty case was greatly inflated. Two eyewitnesses is enough but a far cry from the 38 reported.
      Driving by you could easily miss the whole situation, but any passersby on foot should have at least called 911. I hope the woman and child stew saved in time.

      • madmonk28

        Also, people did call the police. What happened was that Kitty moved to the back of the building and was attacked again by the same person. The people who had called the police assumed the attack had ended, when in fact the violence had moved around to the back of the building. The police, eager to distract a reporter from a police corruption case, largely fabricated the Kitty Genovese story and it worked like gang busters. There is a chapter dedicated to the story in the book Freakonomics.

        • Anon Spock

          There is also a book on her case from the last few years, I think.

        • Leslie

          Yep. I found it somewhat heartening that people did something after all.

          • PetworthPanda

            Never knew all this! Thanks for the additional background. Bystander apathy still exists though. This was just the most vibrant example of it, despite it not being entirely true.

          • madmonk28

            Although really upsetting that NYPD cynically lied about the circumstances of her death to cover their own asses.

  • That guy

    Good for you! So, so, sad that there are so many cowards. I’d have helped you! I had a situation where I was physically assaulted in a Dc metro station and people just walked passed me. I gained control of the individual assaulting me and held him down… People continued to just walk by, even after I yelled for someone to get the police. Metro cops were on the platform and ran over after I yelled. NOT A SINGLE person, got the metro manager, called 911, or came to assist me.

    Reminds me of the 30+ people who watched that poor AU student get beaten and stabbed to death at NoMa.

    DON”T LOOK FOR HELP! Sadly, help probably isn’t coming.

    • AG

      I agree with most of your post, but in the situation in NoMa, the bystanders were in a closed metro car with a seriously psychotic man. If they had intervened, the attacker would have likely turned on them and they would have nowhere to escape. There is a huge difference between that and passing someone on a busy street.

      • Anon Spock

        I disagree. It’s a closed environment where you have numbers on your side. Different yes, but easier to help, I’d argue. He had a knife not a gun. If multiple people had intervened, I believe the man might have lived.

  • Anon H St

    When I took lifeguard training, one of the things they told us is that you shouldn’t assume that someone will call 911, even when it should be obvious (e.g. you are giving CPR to an unconscious person) – you should instead select a specific person and instruct them to do so, e.g. “you in the red coat! Call 911 now and tell them there is an unconscious person who isn’t breathing!” People often don’t understand what they are looking at/don’t process that there is an emergency/assume someone else has already called. That doesn’t mean they are bad people – especially in this situation, where all they saw was OP “screaming and waving [her] arms and begging for help.” They might have assumed she was just one of the many mentally unstable people in DC having a dispute with an acquaintance/yelling at a car for no reason. Anyway, not a criticism of OP, who I give lots of props to for getting involved and trying to help – just a suggestion for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation in the future.

    • Christine

      Thanks, that’s good to know about the training you received and the benefit of giving someone a specific direction to overcome confusion in such a situation.

      “They might have assumed she was just one of the many mentally unstable people in DC having a dispute with an acquaintance/yelling at a car for no reason.” That’s still a perfect reason to call the police!!! You’ve still described a person who is a real or potential danger to themself or to others. You’re getting them help, not getting them in trouble. My neighbor called 911 on a mentally unstable man outside our building several months ago who was ranting and running into the street, and sometimes being threatening towards random people. I was worried about how the police would handle it, but they didn’t confront or arrest him, they spoke with him and kept him safe until an ambulance arrived.

      • FridayGirl

        +1000 to this too.

      • Anon H St

        You’re right – and I do think (hope) that I would have called 911 if I had witnessed this. My point was just that it sounds like it wasn’t really clear what was happening, so people passing by were even less likely to recognize it as a situation in which they should call for help.

        Again, props to OP for her response, especially her quick thinking in photographing the license plate – hopefully the police can help this woman and her child.

    • TinkerTaylor

      Agreed. I’m super slow to process things like this. Not perfectly analogous, but I was at a party where the curtains caught on fire. I was the first to notice, but was basically frozen in place. I think I got out a whispered “fire?” before a more action-oriented person noticed the flames and immediately took the water on fire approach.
      Just to say that it’s not always a lack of compassion for fellow human beings or even a lack of willingness to be involved. Like Anon H St – not a criticism of OP; I wish I had that kind of quick thinking and responsiveness.

  • Christine

    Bravo to this woman for trying to do something, and shame on everyone who passed and did nothing. Even if a passerby thought she was deranged instead of serious, how does that not prompt you to check on the situation? Don’t be deterred by the name, domestic violence is everyone’s business. If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem, and that means you’re partly responsible for the abuse that woman endures from that point on.

    And on the issue of the MPD, I hope the 911 operator and the officer who failed to act are investigated. Maybe it’s just those individuals, and proper action can be taken. But maybe it’s a larger issue of how MPD and 911 handle these incidents, in which case I hope this prompts a deeper effort to better serve these vulnerable members of our community.

  • Melissa

    Thank you, OP. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for not walking by and minding your own business for fear of getting involved. If the cops are finally looking into it, maybe this woman is about to get some help and will be able to get away from this beast of a man.
    And the rest of you commenters who think ANY differently, you are part of the problem. I have been the only one to step up and do something one too many times in this city. Quit ignoring everything they goes on around you and HELP!
    While I am aware that my inclination to step in could one day get me injured, I’d rather deal with that than live my whole life looking the other way. Maybe if all these violent, thieving thugs of humanity were called out by ALL OF US, all of the time, we’d find we have a better place to live.
    The OP did something very brave and should be commended.
    While I know we can’t always physically help, call the police, raise your voice, calls the metro operator. Do something. It is ALWYS better than doing nothing. I’m so sick of the apathy we all have for one another.

    • Rez

      This sounds incredibly sanctimonious. Care to explain how people “thinking” a certain way about blog posts relating to an event they were not present for and did not witness somehow makes them responsible for said event? Or how you, and you alone, are somehow the solution?

      • Melissa

        I might give you one on the sanctimonious comment bc I was all riled up when I wrote that, but I actually said the exact opposite of what you’re criticizing me for. I said we all need to be a part of the solution, homey.

  • lovessoldier

    Thank you OP. Thank YOU!!! I have been tackled, punched, pushed, chased in cars trying to protect women from their abusers. Yet never abused by my mates. Thank you for acting like an AMERICAN!!! See something, say something!!!

    • Acting like an American…huh?

      • Anonamom

        Are we supposed to say “oorah” no or something? I was absent from “How to be an American 101”

  • Sara

    God bless the original poster for doing anything.

    If I saw you I would have called – I might have reported you for beating a car – but either way MPD would come to the situation.

    I have been in a similar situation recently with a man who had fallen from dehydration. I asked four millennials to call 911; to watch him as he crawled up the street (I was with a baby) not one of them stopped. The man could have been their grandfather.

    An ambulance eventually came and was able to help him. There were some teen boys giving him water when he arrived.

    Shame on everyone who didn’t stop and thought they were too busy or too important.

    We need more OPs like this one.

    • So weird

      This is so weird! I had a very similar situation with baby boomers– none of them wanted to help or call for help when a person in a bike accident was bleeding from the face and laying in the road. Then I thought about it afterward and decided not to blame an entire generation for the acts of four people. It’s almost like millions of people can be different *mind blown*

  • andy2

    Good job for the woman for doing this – hero in every sense of the word. Frustrating that no one stopped to help or the MPD officer didn’t see you and stop.
    But at the Kitty Genovese case taught us – good people don’t often report crime when they can deduce others are seeing/hearing the same thing.
    Also, justice is not swift (for a good reason). So while this woman wasn’t rescued right away – hopefully they can get this jerk for violence and vehicular assault and free this woman and child from what appears to be a terrible situation.

  • Jake in DC

    People sue over everything these days. How do I know? I’ve been sued. (dumb case of untied shoelaces) thankfully it was thrown out, but I honestly think that is a part of our society. you even fart the wrong way, somebody will sue you.

    People don’t want to risk being sued. so they stay out of things.

  • Morton

    I don’t get all the folks faulting MPD for this. Based on the account, it sounds likely that the first call taken by OUC/911 was after the incident happened. As such, the dispatcher would have sent it out not as an emergency call, but for an officer to take a report on a crime that the caller had witnessed. From my experience, it often takes a while for an officer to show up to a call that OUC dispatches as a lower priority. The OP doesn’t state how long she waited for MPD to show up. Would be interesting to

    I’m glad that MPD is now investigating. But to blame them for a lack of response isn’t fair. Possibly some blame to OUC if the call was dispatched incorrectly, which one could argue since the witness had seen a violent crime in progress.

    • Morton

      Sorry, strike “Would be interesting to.”

    • west_egg

      Agreed–thanks for this reasonable take. OUC is a documented mess, but it doesn’t sound like they screwed up in this particular case.

  • Dlewis248

    To all the people saying what the OP should’ve done, you think you know the best thing to do until you are in that sort of situation. She did the best she could and I bet half of you with your ‘should’ve done this’ wouldn’t have actually done anything. Bravo to the OP for her efforts. Shame on Metro PD for their lack of response. I hope they catch this guy.

    • madmonk28

      Absolutely. One minute you’re walking to work then next your trying to help a woman being beaten by a violent lunatic. If you’ve never been in a situation like that, you’re lucky, keep your criticisms to yourself. If you have been in a situation like that than you know how irritating it would be to be second guessed by a bunch of armchair Rambos. Good on the OP for really going the extra mile to try to help another person.

    • MPD has stated they have someone working on the case. What more response would you expect when they weren’t actually called to the scene while it was happening?

  • Leslie

    Good for you, sister. Domestic violence is SO ignored in our society, and I JUST DON’T GET IT. It’s been proven that it is the #1 predictor of violent crimes. (The Planned Parenthood shooter had multiple charges–all dropped–and a rape charge–also dropped.) I’m seriously thinking of starting some sort of non-profit to start educating kids about this issue.

  • cam

    Thank you for caring and doing what you did. I know it’s disheartening and incredibly frustrating to be the sole person to have intervened. I believe, as you do, that we’re here to watch over each other and help each other out. I hope the police make up for lost time in their investigation.

  • anon

    Reading these comments, it reminded me of a time when I called the police to arrest a mentally disturbed drug addict who was wandering around a parking garage in my building assaulting women. The cops never showed and after 10 minutes of waiting, I managed to get out of the parking garage and wave down a cop on the street (who had no idea that I’d called) to help me. Why doesn’t DC have actual, employed police dispatchers? This is really disturbing.

    • Anon

      I had a similar situation – crazy guy “piggy backed” through main door of apartment building and tried to follow a young woman to her apartment, then refused to leave building. The front desk person was on the phone w 911 and getting NO WHERE, then I remembered that I’d just seen some cops on the corner and ran to get them. Thankfully, they came and dragged the guy out. We found out a few days later that the same guy did the same thing later that night and that time ended up assaulting someone.

  • Xochipilli the Anonymous

    In such a case, if you see this, you should also say that you saw a firearm being pointed, whether or not you did. You can say later that you must have been mistaken, but the police themselves often “see” guns where there are no guns, and you’d be justified in the deceit if it garnered the proper attention from the police.

    • JT

      That’s an incredibly dangerous recommendation, because it might result in someone getting killed. Do not lie to the 911 dispatcher.

  • petworther

    I’d rally like to hear from a professional advocate for victims on domestic violence on this. I strongly suspect that stepping in front of a vehicle is not the right way to help and in fact may have endangered the very person it was intended to support. It was definitely, however, the right thing to push the complaint and make sure the domestic violence units has all the information.
    It’s not clear what passersby could/should have done. The description makes it seem very obvious and to have taken place over a very extended period (which, no doubt was how OP experienced it), but the video makes it seem very confusing and very short. The car is gone in seconds.
    The response from MPD is disappointing. First, officers should react quickly to all ongoing threats. Second, once the immediate threat has passed they should know the proper response is to refer the complaint to the domestic violence unit, not simply ignore it.
    Lastly, PoP may want to talk to a victim’s advocate to decide how to properly handle the post. On the one had issue awareness is important and I’m glad the story is out there. On the other I strongly suspect that it is not in the best interest of the victim to have information/photos making them potentially individually identifiable on a widely read regional website.

  • drr

    Was it the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) or Metro Transit Police that drove by? They way it’s written by OP, it sounds like Metro Transit that failed to stop and render assistance.

  • U Streeter

    Shame on everyone who just nitpicked OP’s response. She did the best she could in the heat of the moment to help someone in danger. So maybe you think from your living room after some reflection that you would have handled it differently. Well good for you but that’s not the point.
    That said: OP, honey. You are nuts! I mean, in a good way, but still. I’m so glad you didn’t get run over, shot, etc.

    • JT

      Well to be fair, you’re assuming that what OP said is 100% accurate. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. This is the Internet. So I could be just as ashamed at those who say that the police didn’t respond appropriately.

      • Anon

        Huh? You really tripped over your holster here to make a pro-police comment, officer.

  • Brooklander

    “I am my sister’s keeper.”

    Good on you. You did something truly heroic. As shown by the responses, many here would not have the guts to intervene like you did.

  • Anonforthis

    Bystander effect is certainly part of it. I’d argue that another part of the reason folks don’t intervene is self-preservation.

    I’ve gotten assaulted trying to help a woman being hit and she later changed her story to say that her abuser had never touched her and that I was completely out of line.

    My brother intervened when he saw a man beating his girlfriend on the street. He got jumped by the man and his friend, and then was charged with assault when he broke some of their bones defending himself. Got slammed into a police car an hauled off for intervening. Luckily the woman convinced the gov & her abuser to drop the charges against my brother in exchange for her dropping the complaint against the abuser.

    We’ll both still call 911 and yell that we see what’s happening and we’ve called the police, but I doubt either my brother or I will risk getting directly involved again.

  • Mayim

    I don’t understand the people here justifying passersby turning the other cheek. Even if it was some kind of bizarre pedestrian/driver dispute, is that kind of behavior ok? Does that make you feel safe? Could it reasonably escalate to the point of someone possibly being harmed or killed, potentially someone not even involved in the initial dispute? Do you want that happening in your city?

    • me

      That’s not what “turning the other cheek” means. You must have meant turning a blind eye.

    • Who are we supposed to be angry at? Do we know how many people were there? Their proximity to the scene? If they even saw this? No, we don’t. Why waste emotional distress over people that you know nothing about, or if they even exist.

  • Brett M

    I’d love to say I’m surprised the MPD didn’t stopped, but I’m not. It just goes to show that there are serious problems with MPD. I wish you got his or her vehicle number. He or she doesn’t deserve to be an officer.

    • JT

      And you can verify that the claims about MPD made above are true and accurate?

  • me

    Mad props, internet high-fives, and a POPville group hug to the OP. You did good, sister.

  • Leana

    “Never read the comments” – now I see why that’s sound advice.

    To be clear, when I say I “ditched the call to 911” what I meant was that my phone was not able to make the connection about a minute from the time it was placed. That’s why you can see me looking at my phone in the video (which only shows the last 30 seconds of the incident) — I was trying to get through to dispatch the entire time. So for those who think I should have stayed on the line, know that I had an outgoing call to 911 the second after I photographed the license plate.

    And it’s fair to say no one driving by could have known what was happening in the car. But I screamed out for help (which you can hear in the video) and I’m pretty sure the spectacle in the street is what prompted the onlookers to record what was happening which suggests to me that others in the vicinity must have also seen and heard me. Even without any context at all, I should think that screaming for help and waving my arms would have been enough for someone to call 911 or for one of the drivers who saw me to do the same.

    I assure you, no one is more frustrated by the fact I wasn’t able to reach dispatch immediately than me. But know too, that three 911 calls had no effect whatsoever. It’s unclear what Metro PD did in response to the call but as of this morning they hadn’t identified the owner or contacted MD PD to report the incident. I can tell you they did not catch the individual or make any attempt to contact me until I posted my account of the incident on Facebook. They could not even locate my 911 calls in the system when I spoke with them this morning. If they can’t locate 911 calls in their own system, I’m inclined to think that in the event of an emergency you are better off tweeting or posting on social media than you are in relying on 911.

  • anon

    Did the Lt. or anyone else who indicated they’d be working the case provide any sort of explanation as to why a police cruiser would fucking ignore a citizen obviously trying to flag them down?

    • JT

      The OP stated that she tried to flag down an officer. She did not say that the officer ignored her. It is possible that the officer did not see her.

      • Anon

        Dude. Seriously, we get it: You would like to make the point that it is entirely possible that the police are blameless. Got it. Check. The record so reflects. Move along.
        By the way, the reason that posters are so quick to accept the possibility that the police were totally non-responsive is that most of us have lived here for a while. Which means we have totally experienced times where the police were totally zero &$@%s given and totally not interested in doing their jobs. Package stolen? Good luck getting someone to even take a report. I’m not saying all cops are bad. I’m a white woman and almost all my interactions w police have been positive. But man, when you are the victim of a crime, or you witness a crime, and NO ONE will investigate or respond? That SUCKS. And that is something that a lot of folks in this city can relate to.

  • chix

    OP deserves praise for having courage to do this and it is such a tragedy but not unheard of that people passing by do not react or try to get involved. I read a while back (maybe here) about a woman who got struck by a a car making a turn and nobody stopped or called 911 for her and i think she had her child. I don’t understand why is that. Either way the situation of this woman with her child breaks my heart. Nobody deserves this type of mistreatment and abuse and no child should grow up witnessing this. i just want to scream….

  • Kath

    I saw you outside that day– I had no idea what was going on as I passed the car right before it backed up and drove around you. I got a look at who I now know was the perp. Let me know if I can help in any way– truly could not tell what was going on.

  • Lydia

    I am proud to call the helpful woman my friend.


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