CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

South Salt Lake police don’t fault bystanders for not intervening on viral abduction video

Jun 28, 2021, 3:19 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:11 pm

SALT LAKE CTIY — When South Salt Lake police released surveillance footage from a convenience store Friday night, showing the moments when an abduction took place in a parking lot, the video went viral. That’s in part because several bystanders can be seen in the video, and none of them tried to help the victim.

However, South Salt Lake Police told KSL TV reporter Tania Dean that those bystanders, by doing nothing, did the right thing.

What happened that night

In the video, a woman is seen running into the picture toward a black vehicle where a man is pumping gas. Another man runs toward the woman, and both of them are seen standing next to the bystander putting gasoline in his vehicle.

Next, the woman is seen being tossed over the shoulder of the man who’d chased her. The video shows the woman kicking, and recorded her cries for help.

RELATED:  Suspect arrested after South Salt Lake abduction caught on tape

Along with the man putting gas in his vehicle, there are several other people doing the same thing. And nobody is seen on the surveillance tape trying to help.

That got the attention of thousands of people who posted comments on the South Salt Lake Police Department’s Facebook page, where police had uploaded the video.

“Sometimes people freeze,” said Jenn Oxborrow, a licensed clinical social worker who spoke with Dean. “Sometimes people have their own lived experience, and so it triggers something in them.

“You would think that you would react one way, but this whole other set of reactions can come with that.”

The woman in the video was eventually found safe in West Valley City.

An upside to the viral video, abduction, and the bystanders

Oxborrow also told Dean when the video went viral it spurred conversations on social media and elsewhere. Those conversations have actually been helping to teach people what they should do in a situation like that depicted in the security camera video from Friday night.

“A lot of people have thought and talked about this to say ‘what would I do?’ What would I do if I was in this situation,” Oxborrow said.

The police say the best thing a bystander can do is to call 9-1-1, which someone at the store did. That allowed police officers to begin looking for the couple within just a few minutes.

 

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South Salt Lake police don’t fault bystanders for not intervening on viral abduction video