I can only imagine how Michael Palomino felt when he first saw this video of his 17-year-old son, Raymond, front and center, in a mob of kids beating another boy his age. Someone in the group of seven bullies filmed the beating and put it on YouTube, where it went viral. Viewers saw it, recognized Raymond, and told Michael, a single father and sheriff’s deputy. Although Michael said the attack was in retaliation for an earlier one, where the beating victim and his friends jumped Raymond and a friend after school, and the victim wasn’t badly hurt, Michael Palomino promptly phoned 9-1-1 and turned in his son.
That was obviously the right thing to do. Bullying should never be tolerated or allowed to go unpunished. And this type of mob behavior of seven against one is reprehensible.
But was it the right thing to do? Raymond, who has no previous criminal record according to his father, was arrested, charged as an adult, and jailed on a $100,000 bond. The other six, who are fifteen and sixteen, and who kept their faces covered during the attack, were charged as juveniles.
Unable to pay the bond, Raymond’s father had to leave his son in jail. Raymond, whom his lawyer refers to as a “little kid” and a “peanut,” is locked up with adult offenders, where he requests word search puzzles to pass the time. Requests to lower the bond and to release Raymond with an electronic monitor were recently denied.
Michael Palomino said online threats are being made against Raymond, saying he will get beaten if he gets out of jail. So now Michael fears for his son in jail and out.
“I don’t know why I did it,” Raymond apparently told his father. And knowing what we do of how the adolescent brain doesn’t function at full capacity, that is probably true. But it doesn’t excuse the behavior. It only leaves a lot of questions.
Did Raymond tell his father about the first confrontation with the boy who was attacked? If he had and the parents had stepped in at that point, perhaps this beating might have been avoided.
If the video hadn’t gone viral, would Michael Palomino have turned in Raymond (assuming he even learned of the attack), or was it only the social pressure of people knowing about the beating that motivated him? Or would he have kept quiet and handled it on his own with appropriate punishment and apologies?
Would Michael have turned in his son if he’d known he would be charged as an adult?
I prefer to believe the father did what he did because it was the right thing to do. But was it the only thing to do? Thanks to the Internet, Raymond would have been arrested regardless of his father’s actions. And Michael is surely having second thoughts, now that his son sits in an adult jail, missing school and receiving threats.
I tell myself I’m the kind of person who always does the right thing, even when the right thing is the most difficult thing to do. But in this case, I wonder.
What would you do? If you knew your child had participated in the beating of another, would you call the police? Or would you handle it on your own—if the ever-nosy lens of a camera and the Internet allowed you the option of keeping it private?
I do know one thing. If I chose to call the police, I’d call a lawyer first.