Woman Commits Crime, Victim Goes To Jail
Parents in West Virginia were horrified by the story: a young mother shopping at the mall with her little girl was approached by a man who proceeded to grab the child by her hair and pull her away from her mother. As he dragged the girl away, her courageous pistol-packing mom pulled out her sidearm and the insidious man let go and fled — to the food court, where the mother pointed out the would-be kidnapper to cops. The man was arrested and charged for the attempted kidnapping. The story hit the news and spread quickly via local social media. Good mom with a gun is lauded as a heroine; bad man is wished all sorts of nasty bodily invasions and physical torments by the local internet commentariat.
Odd that the man would calmly have a seat in the food court after his thwarted kidnapping, no? Also odd: There were no witnesses. No one in the whole Old Navy store saw or heard the dramatic moment when mom pulled out her gun and yelled at the man to let go of her child. And there was no direct security video of the incident. However, there was some footage of the moments after, and it was enough to make the police call mom back for a second interview.
You can probably guess where this is going.
Welllll, says mom. Maybe he just patted her on the head. Maybe it was a cultural misunderstanding.
A pat on the head — easily mistaken for grabbing a child by the hair and dragging her away from her mother, amiright?
The story gets so much worse.
The alleged kidnapper happens to be an Egyptian man who speaks only Arabic. He sat in jail overnight unable to post the $200,000 cash-only bond, until police figured out the whole thing was a hoax. Meanwhile, the worst people West Virginia has to offer displayed their backsides in comments sections all over, with such helpful insights as “a Muslim. That figures.” And the “good mom with a gun” trope was heralded to full effect by the 2A crowd, most of whom have yet to print a follow-up to correct their original stories of her heroism. Even NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch tweeted the story out, but has yet to update or retract.
The man was finally released late the following evening, but the charges have not been dismissed yet. And though the attempted kidnapping charge probably will be, the prosecutor’s office is considering leaving in place a charge of battery for patting the child’s head (in West Virginia, a battery charge requires only “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature”).
Do you know who has not been charged? The mother. I don’t know her name because it has not been released. The falsely accused man’s name has, though. Along with his photo, and video footage of his perp walk after arraignment. She is not yet charged with filing the false report, or with brandishing a weapon. If her most recent version of events is taken seriously, she pulled a gun on a man for patting her daughter on the head. Oh, and smiling at the child. According to law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office is still considering whether or not she has committed a crime.
The victim here is the accused man, who happens to be an engineer from Alexandria, Egypt. Assuming the head pat even occurred, it’s probably not a good idea this day and age to even innocently touch a child you don’t know. But a simple “don’t touch my child” would have sufficed as an appropriate response here. Certainly not pulling a gun, and absolutely not making an accusation of kidnapping. But even that is giving this woman a benefit of the doubt that is really a stretch. There was no “cultural misunderstanding” here; nobody mistakes a head pat for pulling a child away by the hair. This woman lied, and the convenient brown-skinned scapegoat paid the consequences. The fact that he may still face a battery charge is unconscionable.
This woman’s actions not only egregiously hurt this man; she caused local parents unnecessary fear and stirred up hatred in the community. (Didn’t we just go through this on a national level?) She cried “wolf!”; will it cause future, genuine incidents to be viewed skeptically? Was she seeking attention? Was she hoping to spark some anti-Muslim sentiment? Be the celebrated hero of a “good gal with a gun” story? Whatever the reason, consequences are required.
It remains to be seen whether Cabell County, West Virginia’s prosecutor will do the right thing here, but this cannot go unpunished. That she continues to remain anonymous gives little confidence that she will be made to answer for her actions. Meanwhile, the accused man still faces charges despite her recantation; even some in the public refuse to accept law enforcement’s statement of his innocence, expressing outrage that he has been released. Some accept that it was nothing more than a pat on the head, but insist he nevertheless deserved the mother’s subsequent actions, because how dare that scary-looking man touch this child?
It’s outrage all the way down, and further proof we can accept exactly nothing we see in the news media these days. Everyone, from the cops who arrested and charged the man without an investigation, to the news media who breathlessly reported the story, to the general public calling for the man’s summary execution, need to skip a beat or two before they reach their hasty conclusions. We are all so primed to believe and accept the worst, unwilling to let a story play out.
Thank God for cameras and good detective work; thank God it was only one night in jail. Otherwise, we would have had a real tragedy on our hands.
UPDATE: As of noon today, three days post-arrest, all charges against the man have been dropped.
SECOND UPDATE: Santana Renee Adams, the individual who had claimed that Mohamed Zayan assaulted her daughter, has now been charged with falsely reporting an emergency incident. (SEW)