While the Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog regularly reports on the latest legal trends throughout the State of Florida, I sure hope this doesn't become the latest Florida trend: beating people up and posting videos online.
Two (2) 15-year-old teens were arrested in Palm Bay after police were tipped to a video of them beating another teen unconscious, according to TCPalm.
In an example of the increasingly voyeuristic behavior people are exhibiting on social media web sites, a pair of 15-year-old boys were arrested because of a video one of them allegedly posted on Facebook showing his friend beating another teenager unconscious.
The 15-year old victim of the beating did not tell his parents or go to the hospital, police say. Rather, police were alerted to the beating and ultimately made the arrests acting off a tip from a witness who saw the video on Facebook.
Police arrested David Wayne Howard Jr. and Anthony Vincent Faiola, both 15. They appeared before a Juvenile court judge Thursday at the Moore Justice Center and were ordered held at the Juvenile Detention Center for twenty one (21) days.
"They were defiant; no remorse," Palm Bay police Officer Kevin Morris said of the teens' demeanor hours after their arrest.
"We believe that they posted the video to promote their gang activities. The victim just made a comment about them belonging to a gang, but it was nothing that deserved this type of retaliation. We're also looking into whether there may be other videos."
Faiola videotaped the beating and it was later posted on Howard's personal Facebook profile page, police said. The incident happened Tuesday, but only surfaced Wednesday after a concerned resident alerted Palm Bay police.
The video shows Howard delivering several successive kicks to the victim's head in front of onlookers, at one point stomping on the boy's head as he lay on the ground. A girl's voice captured on the video is heard saying, "Oh my God," repeatedly while the attack continues.
"(The victim) didn't go to the hospital. In fact, he didn't even tell his family," Morris said.
From the video, officers with the department's Youth Services were able to identify several witnesses to the attack, all who attend Heritage High. The fight reportedly happened on Grandeur Road. Howard's family members later removed the video from his Facebook page, police said.
Law enforcement officials and other experts say the video is the latest example of boldly posted videos, texts or photographs that depict illegal or illicit activity. In 2007, a video of a 12-year-old Brevard County girl being beaten by peers was posted online. Across the nation, fights between teens are being captured on cell phones or other mobile devices and posted on social media sites within minutes.
"It's human nature to act in certain ways. It's just that the technology has changed," Brevard County Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes said. "People do things and they want to brag. It's just being carried on in a different way. The fact that it's being thrown on an online media site is no different than the bully in the classroom."
Morris also noted a recent trend of teens, including some in the Palm Bay area, getting together to do "wrestling-style" fights for online video-postings on sites like YouTube, although those cases involve willing participants.
The victim, whose injuries were described as not serious by police, did not want to come forward, primarily out of fear. Police said the incident began when the victim questioned one of the teens about involvement in a gang called "3-2-1," a [very original] name borrowed from Brevard County's area code.
Howard later told police that he had formed the "3-2-1 Boyz" or "3-2-1 Crew " gang and wanted to "beat his .¤.¤." because of derogatory remarks about the group. Police said they tracked Howard to his home on Grandeur Road. The teen ran inside and refused to answer the door for at least 20 minutes before his uncle arrived and ordered him to leave the home, according to police reports.
Howard and Faiola are scheduled for a June 16 trial in Juvenile Court and face one (1) to six (6) years in Juvenile detention. The state attorney's office will review the case to determine whether to charge one or both teens as adults. A conviction as an adult on an Aggravated Battery charge carries a penalty of up to fifteen (15) years in the Florida State Prison system.
In Winter Haven, a brother and sister, 18 and 16-years-old, were arrested after they were identified in a cellphone video beating a 14-year-old girl, TheLedger.com reports. The girl was thrown to the ground and kicked her in her face, police said. "He did what appears to me like a punter trying to kick a field goal," a Winter Haven police spokeswoman said. "It's really a blessing that she did not get any more injuries than what she had."
Walter Bouiye, 18, of 1695 Marshall Road, in Winter Haven, and his 16-year-old sister were charged in the attack, according to Winter Haven police.
His sister was charged with Misdemeanor Battery and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC).
Police withheld her name because she is a Juvenile and charged with a misdemeanor-level crime.
Officers were able to identify the suspects through witnesses at the scene, but the video, later found on online, assisted.
Obviously, the lesson learned from both of these stories is that law enforcement is using social media sources to build criminal cases against suspects throughout the State of Florida. Hopefully, teens will begin to realize this before they ruin their lives over stupid activity.