Woman Lay Dying As People ShoppedOn June 23, at least five shoppers at a Wichita, Kansas convenience store ignored a woman who lay bleeding on the floor, writhing in pain from a stab wound. Not a single shopper helped. In one instance, the only pause given was to step over the body to reach the snack food display near the counter. The injured woman tried to get to her feet three times but collapsed to the floor in each instance. When she finally reached a hospital emergency room, the woman, 27-year-old LaShanda Calloway, died from internal bleeding.
Gordon Bassham, spokesman for the Wichita Police Department, said it was the district attorney’s call. “The only possible charge that could conceivably be filed is a failure to render aid, and that's a district attorney's call,” he said. "This is one of the most disgusting examples of disregard for life I've ever seen," Bassham said of the video. "It is a very, very tragic to watch. It was revolting to see this lack of humanity."
Kansas Statute May Prohibit Bringing ChargesA state statute for failure to render aid refers only to victims of a car accident. Calloway’s stabbing injuries were not caused by or sustained in an automobile accident.
Kansas State Stature 48-3201 – Interstate Civil Defense and Disaster Compact, Article V states, “No party state or its officers or employees rendering aid in another state pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission in good faith on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith.”
For the record, there is proof of the shoppers’ negligent behavior. A store surveillance camera videotaped the entire episode. "She lay on the floor while people continued to do their shopping,” said Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams. “They're taking photographs. That's our frustration -- if people would have called us, who knows what the outcome might have been?"
One witness questioned by police said he and another shopper ran outside the store and waved to nearby firefighters but their pleas were ignored. Not until a police cruiser entered the parking lot did firefighters move in to assist. Wichita Police Department policy forbids emergency medical staff to enter a crime scene that has not been secured by police.
Fatima Kazia, co-owner of the Noori convenience store, said she didn’t believe her employee saw the stabbing or saw the victim lying on the floor.” Our mind is on the customer in front of us," Kazia said. "Sometimes we can't see what other customers are doing." Kazia said if the employee had seen something, he would have told she or her husband. The employee has since quit his job at Noori.
Two people -- Cherish M. McCullough and George R. Brown -- turned themselves in to police and were arrested in connection with the death. McCullough, 19, was charged with first-degree murder in the Calloway stabbing.
"This is concerning," Chief Williams said. "This is one of those infrequent things that we see -- people calling friends to report things before calling 911. It is frustrating to us in law enforcement because time is of the essence. People need to call 911 instead of calling up their cell phone's camera function.”
Would A Judge Consider Such Inaction Punishable?The statute for rendering aid differs from state to state. But beyond the statute, could a district attorney convince a judge that charges of negligence were justified? Suppose a medical examiner provided evidence that Williams would have survived had medical attention been administered one or two minutes earlier?
Fleeing the scene for fear of “being connected to or somehow involved in a crime” is understandable for not rendering aid. However, making cell phone calls to friends and taking pictures of a person in danger of losing their life are deliberate inactions of rendering such aid. And that should be punishable under the law. After all, it could be proven that inaction by store shoppers contributed to the death of Williams, which could. be construed as conspiracy.