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Passersby Ignore Man Downed by Attackers

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Police in Washington, DC say a fight between homeless men that was caught on surveillance tape was over a can of beer. Two suspects are now under arrest. Video by AP

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By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 30, 2009

A man who had been seriously assaulted Tuesday had lain on a sidewalk in Columbia Heights for about 20 minutes, with pedestrians and cars passing, before anyone called for help, D.C. police said yesterday.

Police have arrested two men in the attack, which happened about 5 p.m. outside a grocery store near 14th and Parkwood streets NW. The victim suffered life-threatening injuries and was at a hospital last night, authorities said.

The attack was captured on a store surveillance camera, which showed the man in a small group on the sidewalk. Another man in the group punched the victim, knocking him to the ground. The victim got back on his feet, and another man pushed him down. The victim apparently struck his head and did not get up again.

The videotape, first reported by TV station WJLA (Channel 7) shows people walking by the victim as he lay incapacitated, although with no visible signs of trauma, for about 20 minutes. It then shows an ambulance arriving.

The two men accused in the attack were charged with felony assault, police said. Their names were not released last night.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) expressed disappointment at the reaction of those who passed the injured man without calling for help.

"It's very sad to think that people walk by someone lying in the street," Graham said.

Graham praised police for arresting the two suspects, saying that investigators had canvassed the neighborhood and discovered the surveillance tape.


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