back to article Crime-fighting Seattle superhero unmasked, fired

Seattle’s self-styled superhero has been fired from his job after getting involved in a fracas outside a Washington nightclub. Phoenix Jones was arrested last month for intervening in a fight, and charged with assault. At a court hearing he revealed his identity by removing his mask and giving his actual name as Ben Fodor, a …

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  1. Yag
    Facepalm

    "has said he will be able to patrol the streets by day, since he now has time on his hands."

    Quick! Call ClueBatMan!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that really his hair or is someone holding a toilet brush up behind his head?

    1. Armando 123
      Meh

      Be nice; he never got over the breakup of Cameo

      1. EzJ

        One word...

        Up

  3. Code Monkey
    Thumb Down

    Harsh

    Seems harsh that he should lose his job. He's no hardened criminal. A complete tool no doubt, but a well-intentioned tool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm pretty sure it's universal that a criminal conviction (IF one follows) precludes someone from working with children. Well intentioned or not, I guess they have to apply the rules equally.

      1. The BigYin

        @AC - 18:15

        Depends on the crime. Legislation only bans one from working with kids if the crime is in some way related to harming children. Would you expect a convicted speeder to be banned from working with children? No, of course not. And remember, speeding *IS* a criminal offence.

        His employers may simply have taken the view that he's brought them into disrepute or otherwise set a bad example.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good point.

      Throughout my education I was subjected to quite a few tools; their intentions were nowhere near as well-intentioned as this guys.

    3. Chad H.

      Indeed

      Its not as if beating up criminals at night is a danger to these autistic kiddies... Let the man keep his job.

      1. Echowitch
        Childcatcher

        It might not be a danger to them but they will likely not understand his reasons and will cause potential confusion for them which could lead to them seeking out violence or wanting to fight crime. (I have an autistic child !!)

        Other than that, I applaud his crime fighting. Although he really needs some training in dealing with the media. lol

        1. Thomas 18
          FAIL

          "they will likely not understand his reasons and will cause potential confusion "

          Or possibly they will know nothing about it because he doesn't chat about it during the day what with it being a SECRET IDENTITY.

      2. ThomH Silver badge

        @Chad H

        It's clear from the earlier reporting that he wasn't beating up criminals, just random people that he thought looked a bit threatening.

        I'm also for keeping anyone that thinks they have the absolute right to decide who is and who isn't a criminal away from children. He's a poster-boy for the David Blunkett school of Daily Mail appeasement essentially; forget habeas corpus, innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, etc, let's just empower some guys to do whatever they want.

  4. bumpy
    Headmaster

    Washington state that is

    "Outside a Washington nightclub," i.e. Seattle Washington, not Washington D.C.

    1. Toastan Buttar
      Facepalm

      Thanks, Captain Obvious!

  5. sisk

    One of the Rain City Defenders, or whatever they're calling themselves, had to get charged with assault sooner or later, but is being misguided enough to think the comic book approach to fighting crime is a good idea really a good reason to fire a man who works with autistic children? That's a job you have to care about and people who care are in short supply.

    Ah well. Here's hoping that the rest of the costumed 'super heros' running around Seattle take this as a reality check and find a better way to improve the world before one of them pokes their nose into something more serious than a bar fight and gets killed. I have my doubts, but it could happen.

  6. Graham Bartlett

    @AC

    I thought that do went out in the 80s, after the Cameo guy and Wesley Snipes took it pretty much as far as it'd go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cameo

      It is the cameo guy. WORD UP. Just that he's using a different codpiece, not the bright red one

  7. Luna Tick

    Why is he a tool? People bitch and moan "oh nobody ever does anything" but when someone does they call him a tool and charge with assault. Yes, this guys should definitely be fired from his job, I can't even think what he'll do to all those children; instill some damn courage I'd suspect. He should have just walked by home, closed his shutters and be like the rest of us decent folk: just complain that nothing is ever done.

    1. Figgus
      Thumb Up

      PLUS FREAKIN' ONE!!!

      I'd give more than that, but I might get in trouble for it....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's the problem

      There's some issue between A and B. They are shouting, maybe they start throwing punches.

      C turns up with the intention of calming things down, but A and B are pretty hot under the collar.

      D sees what they think is A and C picking on B, so comes to B's aid.

      E sees a fight between A, B, C and D.

      F, G, H, and I decide they can sort it and enter the melee

      Do you see where this is going?

      You are quite right, people SHOULD give a shit and people SHOULD get involved but without some way to easily identify the intervener rather than the antagonists, you'll just have a brawl. Also, one should not get involved if one is in anyway impaired (i.e. had a few).

      Having just said all that - I did once break-up a fight outside a pub between what turned out to be the groom, best man, father-in-law-to-be and uncle-in-law-to-be. It nearly turned nasty for me at one point when all 4 turned on me and whilst I did (what I thought) was the right thing, it was a good lesson in why one should be very, VERY careful.

      1. Mister Major
        Facepalm

        re: some way to easily identify the intervener

        If only he was wearing some sort of outlandish costume...

    3. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      Well...

      It takes a surprising amount of guts to intervene in a fracas that happens to occur nearby (I know, I've done it) but there's a difference between such have-a-go heroics and actually dressing up like Batman's poorer cousin and going out looking for trouble.

      I agree that his intentions were good, and it seems wrong to punish someone for sticking up for that in which he believes, but I can't help speculating how long his career would have lasted around throwing-out time in Sunderland or Pompey.

      Wish him luck, and premature baldness. ;)

    4. irish donkey
      Thumb Up

      A Vote for you

      A least he tries to make a difference.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He's also pretty brave

      He does realise that this high profile 'crime fighter' persona is marking him out as a big juicy target for any bad guy with a gun (and the ability to aim for the head), doesn't he??

  8. tfewster Silver badge
    Go

    This title is intentionally left blank

    "According to his employers, he may be able to keep his job" So has he been fired, or just suspended?

    Unless he's actually unable to do his job, e.g. if he's in jail or injured, this is an unreasonable reaction by his employers no matter what you think of his actions. If they were getting bad publicity then fair enough, but I suspect they'll get a lot more bad publicity from firing him.

    Fired for “a history of interjecting myself into situations that are dangerous.”?! So his contract of employment forbids any "dangerous" activities like BASE jumping (or crossing the street), in case he gets injured and is unavailable for work? Ignoring the fact that his skills reduce the risk of injury!

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Welcome to the world of topsy turvy where no public spirited individual goes unpunished.

    1. Stephen W Harris
      Stop

      If I give $10 to each and every person in my city (approx 30,000 people) then I good person; if I rob a bank to finance it then I'm a criminal.

      The ends don't always justify the means.

      1. Ru

        If I make up a bizarre analogy that does not relate in any way to the issue in question, does that make it a straw man?

        Your tenner apiece example is also crap, incidentally. It marks you as eccentric, not particularly sensible. If you took that 300k and instead used it to funding teaching or medical staff for a few years, or paid for some urgent medical care, that might make you a good person.

  10. Dan Paul
    Angel

    Washington State Good Samaritan Law

    The State of Washington has the following "Good Samaritan Law" on it's books:

    RCW 9.01.055

    Citizen immunity if aiding officer, scope — When, Private citizens aiding a police officer, or other officers of the law in the performance of their duties as police officers or officers of the law, shall have the same civil and criminal immunity as such officer, as a result of any act or commission for aiding or attempting to aid a police officer or other officer of the law, when such officer is in imminent danger of loss of life or grave bodily injury or when such officer requests such assistance and when such action was taken under emergency conditions and in good faith.

    As far as I am concerned, he is just helping the police do their job. For example, the police were not at the scene of the fight that Fodor broke up, therefore Fodor was acting as a "Good Samaritan" in breaking up the incident, in effect exercizing his civil right to prevent a criminal act when no other authorized agent of the government was available. All US Citizens possess the right to make a "Civil Arrest". No police are required. Few if any ever have the balls to do it.

    By the way, would his employer have precluded a police officer from working part time for them because of the same reasoning as used to fire Ben Fodor? If they did not, then that's precedent against the employer.

    It seems a civil suit will have to be filed against his employer for violation of Fodor's civil rights (and responsibilities).

    Usually, all "Good Samaritan" laws/regulations also include provisions stating that you must intervene or you could be charged with a crime because you did not do your civic duty. These mostly apply to helping sick or injured people but could be construed that if he did not intervene, someone would surely be sick or injured. Better to be proactive than reactive!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seems he had a pretty shitty lawyer representing him.

    I am not a lawyer, just a fan of people who have the stones to do things like this in order to help others even though they get no compensation.

    Also, where is the "Masked Avenger" Icon? I guess the angel will have to do for now.

    1. Stephen W Harris
      Stop

      There will be well understood concepts around "aiding a police officer, or other officers of the law in the performance of their duties as police officers or officers of the law"; it's very unlikely that this situation came anywhere close to meeting the criteria. This person was not covered by the law you quoted.

      "Civil Arrest" is equally problematical; you open yourself up to charges of unlawful imprisonment if you get it wrong!

      If you wanna do a cop's job then become a cop, not a vigilante. At least, then, you'll have a better idea of the law and how to apply it!

      1. DanceMan
        WTF?

        "If you wanna do a cop's job then become a cop, not a vigilante. At least, then, you'll have a better idea of the law and how to apply it!"

        There are too many real life examples of police disproving these claims. Cops don't always know better, but they have the uniform and the entire system behind them, right or wrong.

        The advice against vigilantism is well given. However most cop-wannabes who get weeded out end up in less choosy organizations, like customs and immigration.

      2. EzJ
        Trollface

        In reply to Stephen W Harriss..

        "If you wanna do a cop's job then become a cop, not a vigilante. At least, then, you'll have a better idea of the law and how to apply it!"

        Sound advice but what do you do if you want to protect and serve the public???

    2. Jedit
      Flame

      The Good Samaritan law does not apply

      The reason the law states "aiding a police officer" is because it's the police officers who should determine who is and is not a criminal, not an untrained civilian. If a police officer is *not* there when you see a crime being committed, then your job as a citizen is to call one and gather what evidence you can to be a good witness.

      Watch the video of the incident that got Fodor busted. There is absolutely no denying that his intervention escalated the incident. He's a fool, and he lost his job because he broke the law in the course of being a fool.

      1. The BigYin

        @Jedit

        "is because it's the police officers who should determine who is and is not a criminal"

        I think you'll find it's the courts that do that. Officer can only determine who is a suspect or is to be accused of a crime. It may seem pedantic, but I think the differences between suspect/accused and criminal are being increasingly watered down and eroded. innocent until proven guilty, remember?

        At least, that's how it used to be.

        1. Jedit

          Yep

          My choice of words was not ideal. What I meant to say was that it's up to the police who should be apprehended.

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Wouldn't happen here

    You might fire a 40year career headmaster over a fishing license though -

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1921809/Headmaster-faces-ban-over-fishing-licence.html

  12. dark1here

    Glad to see that in the US you are guilty until proven innocent

    1. Simon Hurr
      Facepalm

      Glad to see that in the US you are guilty until proven rich.

      FTFY

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        A Perfect Greeting for whenever the Guilty are Meeting

        " Glad to see that in the US you are guilty until proven rich. FTFY" .... Simon Hurr Posted 3rd November 2011 23:27 GMT

        Now, now, Simon Hurr, please play nicely, thank you. No low blows even if they are provoked and fully warranted.

        Err, Hmm ... on second thoughts, forget about such niceties, and bury the fockers every time you meet them is an acceptably cool fix and the only one really effective in these virtual times. And it also appears to be the only language that the parasitic ingrates understand and will respond to.

  13. Wombling_Free
    FAIL

    Sad really.

    You can imagine that the two oxygen thieves he tried to sort out simply had better lawyers. - "Your honor, he looked at me funny, that is ASSAULT!"

    Mind you, the cops tend to really dislike vigilantes - demarcation dispute, innit? Next thing you know the vigilantes will be taking graft and turning a blind eye to the 1% just like the cops....

    Fail, because it seems like that is what western civilization is becoming.

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    And how long before Big Daddy and <quiver!> Hit Girl ruth up and sort out this guy's employers? Gee, it might be a bit of a lunatic way to prowl the streets at night, but I'd rather come across him than some asshole with drugs, booze and weapons...

  15. Slabfondler
    WTF?

    Getting involved in fracas...

    Appears to be him running into a crowd shouting for people to stop and some fellow he was with to call 911 then dosing everyone with pepper spray (which made some of them very upset).

  16. Shagbag

    Job opportunity

    Maybe he could get a job in pron - clubbing someone with his stick or punching them in the ring?

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    "It was embarrassing...."

    ...oh, and that supa-guy get-up and hair-cut isn't?

  18. Graham Bartlett

    @Luna Tick

    "Why is he a tool? People bitch and moan "oh nobody ever does anything" but when someone does they call him a tool and charge with assault."

    Er, yes - bcos according to the reports, there wasn't a fight going on. But Captain Hairspray got the wrong end of the stick and dived in pepper-spraying people.

    1. Rob Dobs
      Happy

      what reports did you read?

      according to him and other witnesses, there was indeed a fight going on, which he acted to break up. This seems to be in accordance with the law someone posted above, that (at least in Wash State, certainly other places as well) is legal to act on your own when you think a crime is going on.

      Maybe he was incorrect, but the actual tools outside the night club should not have been swinging at each other in public, or they risk getting pepper sprayed like they did.

      1. Jedit
        FAIL

        What reports?

        That would be the 17-minute video of the entire incident that was posted on the Web by a guy who at the time was following Fodor around making a documentary about masked vigilantes. Go watch it. I absolutely guarantee that you will reappraise your stance on the matter.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pheonix "criminal" jones

    Surely getting involved in a fight with so called criminals is a crime in itself, your going in and intentionally roughing someone up who, lets be honest hasnt actually been accused of a crime yet, hes just assuming they are commiting one, hes as guilty as they are not to mention the fact hes interfering in something that the police should be out sorting out. Lock him up with the criminals and throw away the key, hes a loony!

    1. Rob Dobs
      Facepalm

      You are very wrong!

      Some good Samaritan laws actually require you to intervene when you see a crime (even if its just calling the police) and Many states and counties have clear laws that if someone is, or appears to be breaking the law, then you are in your full legal right to stop them from committing the crime, and even forcibly detain them until police arrive, or you get them to the police station yourself (assuming that you can pull this off course) its called a citizens arrest, and it is the same laws bounty hunters use to break down doors where they have good reason to know a convicted felon is hiding out, and then taser or tackle that person and cuff them. They are not police, but ANY citizen can do this if they are acting in good faith to prevent a crime, or catch a known criminal.

      The risk, which Phoenix has run into here, is that if the people were NOT breaking a law, then you risk getting charged for assault. This is why so very few people would bother to interject in a crime these days...lawsuit repercussions are too high risk. In this case it appears that some drunk friends were fighting...they were breaking the law by fighting in public, and he was in the right to act to stop them...what sucks for him is after they got pepper sprayed and sobered up, they all wanted to avoid criminal charges for fighting in public, so synced their stories that HE was the aggressor, and not them. Really shitty of people hiding behind their computers at home doing nothing to call this guy a tool or criminal, when he has been for YEARS working to make his town safer for all the people in it, by putting his life at risk. That is the real definition of a hero, even if he looks a little foolish, and isnt a superhero. Shame on you I wish there were more like him in every town, and maybe so many women wouldn't be raped, and so many people robbed.

      I hope that when it does happen to you, you at least reflect for a moment on how great it would be if he was there at that time!

  20. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Dichotomy, with this one...

    I'd rather meet this bloke on a street, than some of the others I may meet at night...

    However, in UK, we have (had?) so-called "Hobby-Bobbies" who had the power of a constable, (Actually, Special Constable) but unpaid. He didn't have.

    Wonder if they have the same in Seattle?

    He should've joined that, if they have such a thing.

    (Incidentally, @ Graham Bartlett - "Captain Hairspray" creased me up!! Nice one!)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Cameo!

    It's Cameo! He even has the codpiece ... although he is wearing it on the wrong side of his trousers.

    Word up!

  22. joshimitsu

    if he really wants to fight crime

    don't they have a volunteer police / community patrol scheme there?

  23. Armando 123

    Most critical question

    Has he ever shouted "Go for the eyes, Boo!" in his escapades?

  24. PsychicMonkey
    WTF?

    Having watched the video

    It is clear that he inflamed the situation, however how long did it take for the cops to turn up? even after someone was hit by a car? WTF?

    He shouldn't have been running around with pepper spray, that in itself is illegal here in the UK.

    I guess the key here is what others have said, if you want to fight crime become a police volunteer.

    I have personally intervened in fights before (and been clumped in the face for it), and other situations where people are doing wrong, I just don't walk the streets looking for the trouble to intervene on, I guess that's the difference.

    I do however wish more people would intervene, if more people did I honestly believe there would be less crime.

    1. PatientOne

      Quite agree: People shouldn't be afraid to intervene.

      I'm not sure if Pepper spray is illegal in the UK, but if it is, there are other legal devices available (marketed for lone workers) that would help in discouraging a fight (personal alarms for example). After all, the aim is to stop the fight, not to hurt people.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have any of you been assaulted? It's not fun. I was attacked outside my own home, and there were quite a few witnesses but no one did anything to help. Not even to call the police.

    Someone stepping in to break things up would have been welcome. Someone calling the police would have been something. Having people stop to watch, or simply turn away and pretend nothing was happening was a bit sickening. Two people came up after to say they had witnessed the attack and would act as witnesses.

    So I'm behind this guy. He's at least trying to do something. Sure, he got this one wrong, but how many has he got right? And if he's to be punished for his mistake, then send him on a course on handling violence and aggression so he knows what he should have tried first (aside from call the police which apparently his friend was doing).

    1. Jedit
      Thumb Up

      I agree in theory

      However, there is a difference between a passer-by seeing an incident and intervening, and a man actively seeking out incidents to intervene in.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      You're looking at it the wrong way around. This guy allegedly assaulted several innocent people.

      I appreciate what you're saying: that because his only motivation was to help, the cumulative total of his positive effects should be weighed against the cumulative total of his negative effects. Or, in short, he made a simple honest mistake — he acted without malice so he isn't morally culpable.

      I don't go along with that because I don't think it's a sustainable piece of logic. Assuming he did the alleged act, he intended to perform an assault and he performed an assault. So he performed a crime because he thought it was of social benefit.

      So you're endorsing individuals deciding that they have earned the moral right for the law not to apply to them.

      I see no distinction between him and, say, someone who (genuinely, not just as a lazy excuse) justifies benefit fraud on the basis that they deserve to get something back because the government bailed out the banks and they've supported themselves and paid appropriate taxes for the twenty preceding years.

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