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SAINT PAUL, Minn. - A man trying to help a girl from getting assaulted and beaten at a St. Paul bus stop spoke out about the night of the attack.
Eric Skripka, 33, was battered and bruised but he says he had to do something when he saw Brian Harper assaulting a girl while getting off the 16 bus on University Avenue in St. Paul.
"I recall her being in the defensive position trying to minimize the blows,” said Skripka.
He relied on his training as a military police officer in the Minnesota National Guard. Skripka explains that he stepped in to protect the defenseless young woman
Harper allegedly punched Skripka in the head and then once on the ground, witnesses report that the 18-year-old suspect held onto the glass wall as he kicked him five to ten times as hard as he could.
After the attack, Harper fled down an alley. Police found him hiding in this garage. Officers then brought him back to the scene where several witnesses identified him as the assailant.
On Monday, prosecutors charged Harper with assault in the third degree.
Skripka spent two days in the hospital and refuses to second guess his actions, calling them instinctual under the circumstances.
Simply stated, there are wrong ways to do the right thing.
Wrong ways that will get you into the same state (or worse) as this Good Samaritan.
When someone is actively engaging in physical violence, the LAST thing you want to do is run up ... and then start woofing at him. And yet, this is what entirely too many people (who end up like the Samaritan in the story) attempt to do.
What they don't understand is that if it's gone physical, it is past the threat display and posturing stage that precedes most physical violence. In short, this tactic puts you into the middle of a situation, but you are WAY behind the power curve. And the attacker knows it. So it is extremely likely that he will simply turn his physical violence onto you.
There are ways to close in and break up a physical assault. It can be effectively done and often in such a way that will end the confrontation -- and violence -- without further problems. But the raw truth is there are more ways ways for it to go wrong then there are ways for it go right.
Simply put, it has to be done a certain way. If you bring anything else into the formula or leave anything out, you'll get beaten. So while it can be done, don't try it without specific training about this very subject. By that I don't mean generic martial arts, mixed martial arts, 'reality based self-defense' or in the case of the Good Sam, even police defensive tactics. I mean training on how to break up fights and assaults.
So what can the average person do? Short answer: Let ol' Geronimo know the cavalry is comin'.
While running up to someone and yelling isn't a good idea, staying back and yelling, has a far better track record -- especially if you're yelling that the police are coming. It's even better if you're telling the truth.
911 on your cell phone, a "HEY YOU! I'M CALLING THE COPS!" and then giving the attacker's location and description will do a whole lot more to scare him off than running up, sticking out your chest and calling him names.
Violent people tend not to be scared of you, but they are scared of the police -- especially if the police show up while they are being violent. While the cops must be polite and restrained when the attacker isn't doing anything (or has done something) when the police show up and he is being violent ... all kinds of unpleasantness can happen. This includes him flopping on the floor while the taser does its five second cycle.
While some might see what I'm saying here as advocating not getting involved, that is not my point at all. I'm suggesting that there are better ways to get involved than just stepping up and volunteering for a beating.
And for the record, if the guy doesn't run when he knows you called the cops, even if he decides to come charging over to attack you -- then the cops are already on their way. This tends to be helpful. But let's say that you decide to ignore this distance strategy and run up. Even then, it's a good idea to call the cops before you go charging over like Superman to intervene. If nothing else they'll be there sooner to pull the guy off you.