Vigilante justice in the Sunshine State isn’t getting a great rap right now. The tragic killing of Trayon Martin by a community watch participant, George Zimmerman, has raised serious questions about Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law (and also caused headaches for Hollywood).
But sometimes — perhaps most of the time? — alert and engaged citizens are a good thing. Today we bring you the happy and heartwarming story of two Florida law students who helped apprehend a fugitive from justice.
How did they do it? Through keen observation and quick thinking….
Here’s a report on what went down, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law:
UF Law students Cameron Frye and William Hayenga, pictured with Gainesville Police Department Cpt. Bart Knowles and Cpl. Angelina Valuri, were leaving Southwest Rec Center March 28 around 7 p.m. when they saw an unusual sight — a man covered in dirt from head to toe with his hands hidden underneath his shirt despite the warm weather. They remembered a UF alert earlier that day about a man on the loose who had fled from custody during an arrest, and called the University Police Department.
Also note how Frye and Hayenga wisely decided to call the police, instead of trying to apprehend Phillips themselves. Perhaps George Zimmerman should have done the same?
These two great Gators were rewarded for their efforts:
On April 2, police officers visited UF Law campus to reward the two for their help in apprehending the man. Darius Phillips, facing charges of domestic battery and grand theft auto, escaped from the custody of the Gainesville Police Department as he was being moved from one police car to another during a shift change. The Gainesville Police Department responded to the escape by sending out a UF alert and contacting the media, resulting in a manhunt for Phillips that lasted most of the day.
Frye and Hayenga each received $250 and were recognized and commended for their assistance by Knowles and Valuri of GPD. “This is just a great example of two Gators who did the right thing, and from the GPD we really can’t thank you enough,” Valuri said.
Thanks to Cameron Frye and Bill Hayenga for their service to the community, and congratulations to them on this well-deserved recognition.
(The public recognition is, to be honest, worth more than the reward money. Levin College of Law is relatively affordable, especially for in-state residents, but $250 won’t make much of a dent in those student loans. Spend it instead on dinner for four at Amelia’s, conveniently located “behind the Hippodrome.”)
UPDATE (5:30 PM): A commenter wonders: “Is this guy’s name REALLY Cameron Frye? Ferris Bueller, anyone? I suppose we have now gotten to the generation of law students whose parents loved that movie.”
Frye and Hayenga seem, by the way, like genial fellows; you can check them out in this video clip. I like this quote from Cameron Frye, discussing escapee Darius Phillips: “He thought, because he was young, that he could fit in. But he’s not going to outsmart guys like us.”
Law students lead police to escaped arrestee [FlaLaw Online / University of Florida Levin College of Law]
UF Students Find Escapee [WCJB - TV20]
Comedy Timing Is Bad as News and Film Collide [New York Times]