(WMC) - For the first time, Monday evening, WMC Action News 5 heard from a co-worker of the man who investigators say was brutally beaten on Beale Street while people recorded the incident with their phones.
Justin James worked with Jonathan Parker at Bar Louie in Overton Square. He told WMC's Janice Broach that he was shocked to see video of Parker lying bleeding from his head, unconscious on Beale Street. He said he got a call from friends Sunday morning about what led up to Parker ending up unconscious.
"He was speaking with some girls trying to talk to one of them, or flirt with them. They rejected him," said James.
James says his friends told him that Parker started arguing with a group of girls and someone slugged Parker in the head.
The video made rounds on social media because people standing around an unconscious Parker took the video and didn't do anything to help, nor did they alert police.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said no one called 911 and that it is not clear if Parker was in a fight or if he passed out or fell. A police report said Parker was too drunk to say what happened. Director Armstrong released the following statement:
"It is disheartening to see an injured person laying on the ground with spectators capturing photos and video; but not calling for assistance. MPD Communications did not receive a call concerning this wounded individual; however, officers who were assigned to Beale Street responded immediately once they witnessed a large crowd and a man down," stated Director Armstrong. "This is an ongoing investigation and we are trying to put the pieces together to determine what actually occurred."
Investigators are reviewing footage from cell phone cameras and MPD cameras to figure out what happened. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said it is upsetting so many people stood around and did nothing.
Mayor Wharton released a statement as well, saying:
"Although we are still not clear on what led to the man being in this state, this is a truly regrettable situation all the way around.
I guess I'm not so shocked by the fact that even in a city known for helping people in need that a person in obvious distress would not be immediately assisted by those who saw the situation. I'm reminded that even in the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, two people passed by the man on the roadside bleeding before the Samaritan stopped to help.
What is, however, more upsetting to so many of us is that instead of ignoring this individual's need for help, some people actually stopped and took the time to use their phones to record the incident. These are the same phones that people could have used to call for help given that the initial team of Memphis Police Officers arrived on the scene despite having not received a report of the incident.
With that said, I look forward to hearing from Memphis Police after they have concluded their investigation into this matter. As much as this would have been disturbing no matter the individual or the area of town, I want to assure our tourists, residents, and citizens alike that Memphis is still the City of Good Abode and their collective safety is our priority."