Perhaps it's a growing digital-age reaction: When someone needs help, bystanders whip out their phones — but not to call 911. Instead they record video or take photos of what's happening, then walk away.
That happened a little more than a month ago in Philadelphia as a transit cop was being assaulted by a thug under investigation. Although at least seven people were seen on surveillance video watching the cop being wrestled to the ground, no one called for help.
But one person was seen recording the assault on a cell phone.
Which brings us to Houston, where the body of a half-naked homeless was found in a strip mall parking lot after having been dead for up to 20 hours.
According to police, help came in the form of a deputy constable who found the man without any calls having come in, KHOU-TV reported.
While one person reportedly placed a sweatshirt over the man, police said hundreds of others saw the man and passed right by. No one called for help.
But a number of curious bystanders did take the time to use their phones to snap photos of his dead body, police reported.
“If they just had used their cell phone to make a call instead of a picture, perhaps this man could still be alive today,” Sgt. Brian Harris told KHOU. “I would like to say our city is better than that, I know our city is better than that.”
Alice Davis, who works at a business down the street from the strip mall, said she knew the homeless man as “Big Guy."
“He would come in and say, ‘Can I get a quarter? Can I have a cup of coffee?’ Sometimes he would ask to use the bathroom,” Davis told KHOU.
“I’m thinking the man was asleep, so nobody knew he was really dead.”
Still Davis lamented what happened: "That's not nice," she told KHOU. "That's somebody's son. That's somebody's brother."
Authorities believe the homeless man died from natural causes, but the medical examiner will determine that, as well as his identity, and then notify his family, KHOU said.
Here's a report from KHOU:
(H/T: 610 AM Houston)