A series of interviews – an exercise in truth:
If you want to play along, read the following statements given to a police officer and then answer the questions at the end.
“I saw the whole thing! I was across the street talking with my coworker, Jim, and the car jumped the curb and hit the lady. It was horrible!”
“I saw the whole thing! I was out walking Measles, that’s my dog, and we turned the corner from Alpine onto Fifth, and this guy punched the lady, she fell backward into the street and was hit by a car. It was horrible.”
“I saw the whole thing! My husband, Tony, and I had just finished our meal at the little café at the end of the street. The lady and man had walked passed our table arguing as we were paying the bill. They were both shouting at each other. When we left the café, their yelling drew my attention and I watched as she slapped him and he raised a hand to ward off the attack. Then she tripped on a fire hydrant and fell backwards into the street where she was struck by the car. It was horrible!”
“I saw the whole thing! I was on my bike, Agnus, at the time, and we were on our way to make a package delivery uptown. The congestion on the street forced me onto the sidewalk for a moment, yes I know the laws, and I had to stop because the lady and man were blocking my path. They were arguing, which isn’t that uncommon, but then the lady slapped him and that really caught my attention. Then she pulled out a knife from her purse and looked like she was going to attack him. He grabbed her wrists to try and wrestle the weapon away from her and she tripped on the fire hydrant and fell into the street. The car had no time to stop before it hit her. It was horrible.”
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I was on my way to see my friend, Charles, who lives up Fifth, on the other side of Alpine, and … And I just can’t believe this happened. I was in the far right lane, almost up against the curb because the cars around me had just nearly collided. Some jack-hole in an Audi was traffic weaving and nearly hit a minivan. I… I don’t see that either of them stopped. I don’t see them here still. And then all of a sudden the lady was falling into the street. I hit the brakes and swerved to try and avoid her, but there was nothing I could do. There was no room to maneuver. There wasn’t time to stop. It was horrible!”
“I’ll tell you everything! My wife, Gwen, and I were fighting over her brother, who has been staying at our apartment for the last couple months, ever sense he made parole. I wanted him out because he is a bad person. She wanted to let him stay because she thought she could help him turn his life around. Things got pretty heated as we approached Alpine and she slapped me when I suggested that she was blind to the truth of how bad he truly is. Then she pulled a knife from her purse to show me that she wasn’t that naïve. She had confiscated the weapon from him that morning. I reached out to her, to apologize, to offer comfort. In that moment I knew we would figure out how to make it work. I love… I loved her. But, her heel caught in the air vents on the sidewalk as we turned to continue our walk, she lost her balance and fell over the fire hydrant into the street. The car hit her before I could even react to try and save her. It was horrible.”
The car is on the street, with dark tire tracks left in the road from brakes. The lady was thrown several yards in front of it. A knife was recovered near her. The interviewees all appear visibly distraught. An agitated crowd is gathering, and the longer you take to make a decision and clear the scene, the rowdier they get. Half are screaming that the husband of the deceased needs to be arrested immediately for domestic violence, and half are screaming that the driver of the car needs to be arrested for reckless driving.
Which version of the events do you believe? Which witness(es) do you trust? Why? What additional information do you need?
What do you decide to do?
Quick! The whole nation is watching…
Update: In a couple discussions in the comments I remembered and brought up a video I had watched in one of my psychology classes in college that showed how unreliable eye witness testimony can be. I went looking for it on youtube, and while this isn’t the study I remembered, but it is close enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSzPn9rsPcY