Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Any Recourse for the Slaying of American Tourist in Beijing? (Republish)

By now, I think everybody knows about the brutal attack and killing of Mr. Todd Bachman, an American tourist at the Bell Tower in Beijing on the first day of the Olympic Games. 

Caijing has a nice rendition of what happened:

Workers at a Hangzhou instrument gauge factory in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province remember Tang Yongming as an ordinary colleague who liked to joke and play cards at a local tea house.

Tang could be talkative, opinionated and moody, his former workmates told Caijing. But none thought he could kill in cold blood.

Police, however, have identified 47-year-old Tang as the knife-wielding man who shattered the peace of the Beijing Olympics’ first day by attacking an American couple and their Chinese tour guide before killing himself. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said the couple’s adult daughter was also at the scene but escaped injury.

The husband, however, didn’t escape Tang’s blade and  died at the Drum Tower tourist site near central Beijing. U.S. news agencies identified the man as the father-in-law of the coach of the U.S. men’s volleyball team. The wounded wife and tour guide are expected to recover.

After the stabbing spree, police said, Tang killed himself by leaping from the tower’s upper level.

The August 9 incident came less than 24 hours after the capital city successfully opened the games with a Bird’s Nest stadium gala a few miles away. An embassy statement said the attack was “what appears to be a senseless act of violence.”

I agree that this is a “senseless” killing of a man and violent attack of  a few more people, right there in the heart of Beijing, where the 2008 Summer Olympic Games were unfolding.  But, I cannot brush aside my thoughts as to who should be held responsible, other than the assailant. 

Yes, you are right–I am asking if and how the family of the aggrieved can be justly compensated for the loss of their loved one.  To me, someone has got to be held responsible.  But who and how? 

Thinking from a U.S. perspective, I am trying to figure out causes of action against the parties responsible for providing security at the Bell Tower.  The Beijing city government?  The Beijing Police?  And/or whoever was providing security. 

“Sure, the defendants will argue that criminal activities committed by Mr. Tang was a superseding cause of Mr. Bachman’s death.  But, don’t we have a special and unique circumstance here?  Does the defendant(s) owe the deceased a heightened level of duty of care?  Mr. Bachman was an invitee, and those in charge of securing the Bell Tower had a duty to make that place reasonably safe and secure for folks like him.  Further, those in charge had a duty to adequately train their security personnel so that the popular tourist destination would be reasonably safe and secure.  In addition, since those in charge of security knew or should have known that more visitors were coming to the Bell Tower, which enhances the odds of harm and danger to invitees like Mr. Bachman, they have the duty to provide adequate security as reasonably prudent men would.  

But, they failed, miserably.  An attacker was able to get into the crowd, injure a few individuals, and fatally attack another before he committed suicide.  Where were the security guards?  What were they doing when the attack was happening?  Had there been adequate security Mr. Bachman would not have been fatally attacked and killed consequently.  Had there been adequate security personnel with adequate training Mr. Bachman would not have been so brutally killed by his assailant.  Therefore, it was the negligence of the parties providing security at the Bell Tower that proximately caused Mr. Bachman’s death.”

That is kind of what and how I would have argued on behalf of the deceased. 

What do you think?

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