Finger-biting incident Update

by Karoli on September 4, 2009 · 244 comments

Let me start this with a clear record correction. In my initial account, I identified two participants: Yellow shirt guy and PR Guy. I had the identity of the guy who threw the punch wrong.

Here is a photo. You’ve probably seen it, because it’s the one I gave police on Wednesday night, withheld from publication to everyone else, only to discover that the police released my photos to mainstream media without any credit or attribution back to me. More on that later.

after confrontation

The man who did the biting is on the right. On the left, there is a tall man in a yellow shirt, and a shorter, stockier man in a khaki shirt. Behind him is a man in a blue shirt. The man in the blue shirt was not involved, never included by me or anyone else.

The man in the khaki shirt is Bill Rice, the man whose pinky finger was bitten off. The man in the yellow shirt was misidentified by me as the puncher in my initial post. My face-to-face interview yesterday with a Ventura County Sheriff’s department detective made it clear that I was mistaken about who had hit whom.

I was not, however, mistaken about who hit first. In other words, I did misidentify the instigator (and subsequent victim), but I did not err on the sequence of events.

The thread of accusation running through those who sympathize with Mr. Rice goes this way: You didn’t identify the right guy, so your entire account is a lie. Here’s my response to that: It’s common for eyewitnesses to make errors. That’s why detectives interview more than one witness when available, and it’s why lineups are flawed.

Evidently, the police have chosen not to arrest Mr. Rice for assault, despite his admission that he not only hit the man in black once, but hit him a second time.

Once again, Mr. Rice agrees with me on the following: 1) He threw the first (and second) punch. 2) There were words exchanged.

About the flyer lady

She exists. She was threatened, but not touched. It happened ahead of this confrontation. The man in black did cross the street to confront them after it happened. Just after it happened. Here she is arriving at the event.

This whole incident has taught me much about people on and off line, my own perceptions, and overall, has made me a much more cynical person who will be far less willing to co-operate with police or authorities should I ever be called upon to do so again. Why?

  1. Despite my efforts to cooperate fully, and despite a conversation with the police about my photos and my intention to publish them as soon as I had provided all of the information they wanted, they released them with no attribution, no credit, and no notice. Keep in mind, I wasn’t looking to sell them. I stated that outright to the detective. I had, however, promised some people who had emailed or asked that I would give them the link as soon as I published so they could have the first publishing rights to them. As I said, they don’t show much, but they are a clear image of the players.

    I should have just walked away, come home, published them and let them download copies from Flickr. Next time, I’ll know better.

  2. Read through the comments on that post. I don’t take them personally, but they prove one thing: Almost no one cares about the truth. The only thing people seem to care about is their own agenda, which increasingly seems to be hateful, slanderous and devoid of any real sense of debate. That isn’t true of every commenter, but there are more than a few who fit the mold. I was a little minor blip player on a larger landscape. I fight my own battles for reform because without it, my own family is at risk. Yet to read some of these comments here and elsewhere, I am Satan on a black horse. Fine. Why bother.

I also owe major props to Casey Wian at CNN for a fair interview, and honoring his promise to make sure my remarks about the peaceful, positive aspects of the event were included and for having the attribution changed at CNN to me on the photo. He and several others salvaged what rapidly became a very difficult day.

Here’s Casey Wian’s report from Thursday. That photo has been on all the major news channels, even made it to BBC by one person’s account, and only CNN has given on-air credit. Thank you so much, VCSD. Why does credit matter? Because if, at some point, I were to get a J-O-B, it would be nice to have the credit and creds to go along with the resume. Maybe I could actually get P-A-I-D for what I love to do.

To Mr. Guy in Black

Finally, a word to the guy out there who was punched and who bit: Contact the sheriff’s department and get your own side of the story in there. Quit hiding and step up. You’re no hero and you’re rapidly looking like a thug. So step in there and tell your side. That’s what good citizens do. Right now you just look like a street thug, and your absence is proving it. Do the right thing. ABC reports the cops are looking for you. I have an identifiable picture of you. Just get it over with.

Previous post:

Next post: