Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Blame the Good Samaritan??? You've got to be kidding.
Is it any wonder so many people don't feel inclined to get involved when they see crime happening in front of them?
Emilia Rzedzian hardly turned a blind eye - but that still hasn't stopped lawyers for two men of essentially accusing her of manslaughter.In case you missed it, Rzedzian is the Winnipeg woman who happened to be driving down the street late one night when she saw three young men viciously assaulting a helpless victim.She briefly stopped her car, whipped out her cell phone and called 911. She then watched as the attackers seemingly fled the scene, leaving the beaten man laying on the road.Rzedzian described her fear to the emergency operator and was assured help was on the way.Unfortunately, it arrived too late. The victim, Adam Lecours, was struck and killed by another passing motorist who didn't see his body on the street.Police eventually charged the three men who beat him with manslaughter. They were all convicted after trial, the judge ruling that leaving Lecours in such a vulnerable position was criminally negligent and resulted in his death.Sounds reasonable, no?Not according to lawyers for the two adult killers, who are essentially trying to shift blame away from themselves and place it squarely on the shoulders of Rzedzian.In a nutshell, they're saying "why should we be held responsible for leaving him in the street when she didn't go pull him to safety either - and she was the last one to see him".The argument, as I see it, has no basis.Rzedzian wasn't the one who beat Lecours to the point he couldn't fend for himself - they did.And how could any reasonable person expect her to do anything more than call for help as she did? Sure, there may be some people who would have gone that extra step. But we've all read stories about people trying to play the role of hero who end up being victimized themselves.As Lecours' widow told me, she is thankful Rzedzian at least had the courage to dial the telephone. Sadly there are some people who probably wouldn't have even done that.And the victim's loved ones are livid the killers are now trying to deflect blame away from theselves - especially since they had the chance to make this same argument during the trial yet failed to do so.Only at the last second, as they are about to be sentenced, do they pull it out of thin air. Amazingly, the judge here is going to take nearly a full month to consider whether it has "any merit"!To add insult to injury, Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen also told the family they could not display pictures of Lecours in court while reading their victim impact statements, which they expected to do Friday but have now been told are on hold indefinitely.The judge says the pictures won't add to her understanding of the crime and agreed with the protests of the defence lawyers.But the images weren't for her - they were for the killers, to see exactly what the man they killed looked like. Not in a bloody heap on the street, but as a living, breathing human being.Yet despite the fact family members of other recent homicide victims have been allowed to show photos, the Lecours family is being shut out.And any faith they had in the so-called justice system is gone as well.My e-mail inbox and phone lines lit up when I discussed this issue with the family on my national radio show this past Sunday night. People were outraged.I promised to give folks another forum to vent, so here it is. Keep the discussion going and post your thoughts below.