Andrew Doty and his girlfriend were walking from their apartment in Tower Grove East to get some dinner last night along South Grand Boulevard when they stumbled upon a group of men huddled around a white SUV on Pestalozzi Street, just off Grand Boulevard.
The scene seemed a bit unusual, Doty, 27, remembers thinking, but his first instinct was to keep walking. Then he locked eyes with a woman in the back seat that Doty believes was being beaten by the men.
Update: The Circuit Attorney's Office has charged two men with third-degree assault against Doty. The men are Phillip L. Grim, 20, of the 3800 block of Park Avenue and Lemario E. Grim, 22, of the 5000 block of Alaska. The charging documents don't include information about the assault Doty allegedly witnessed. Our original story continues below.
"I saw there were at least three men, the back doors were open, and two of the guys were blocking the exits of the doors," says Doty. "And one female was in the back seat, but like facing backward, so she was facing us. She made eye contact with me, but she had no expression on her face. She just had a blank stare."
As the couple walked past the vehicle, Doty's girlfriend saw one of the men apparently punching the woman repeatedly.
"So we doubled back, and I started filming the SUV. We got about 30 seconds in before they realized we were filming and then they confronted us."
At that point one of the men approached Doty, telling him to put up his phone and stop filming. A fearless Doty continued, telling the men to "back up" and to "sort out your shit" and "get it out of here."
The confrontation begins around the 38 second mark in the video below.
"Once I saw someone was in danger in the back of the car, it's my obligation as a citizen of this neighborhood to try to help," says Doty today.
Eventually, two other men from the SUV rushed toward Doty and his girlfriend while she was on the phone with police. They surrounded the couple, and at least one of them took a swing at Doty and attempted to grab his camera. Still, Doty continued filming while his girlfriend pepper sprayed one of the men causing all three to retreat. The couple survived the incident relatively unharmed, though Doty did get scratched on the neck by one of the men.
The men then drove off in the SUV and turned into Tower Grove Park. Doty got the license plate, as did other witnesses who came to his aid following the confrontation. Doty assumes that the woman who he initially tried to save was still in the backseat of the SUV as it drove away.
"I would consider this a kidnapping because there was a person being attacked in the back of a car, and then they drove away with her," says Doty.
When St. Louis police finally showed up, Doty was surprised that the two officers didn't ask to take his video as evidence (though they did watch it). The same goes for another video shot by a motorist who stopped to film the incident shortly after Doty began taping.
"They jotted down some details and told us we were good to go," Doty says. "I'm furious about the lack of police response. They didn't pursue the assailant last night even though they knew exactly what to look for and where to go. They didn't call for back up and took eight-plus minutes to respond to at least six 911 calls. Only one car showed up -- no lights, no siren."
Police did not immediately respond to calls from Daily RFT seeking information regarding the case. We'll update the post when we hear back.
Follow Mitch Ryals on Twitter at @mitchryals. E-mail the author at [email protected].