The criminilization of civil wrongs continues in the arrest of James Roppo. Roppo was the Island Records executive in charge of an appearance for some tweenie singer I never heard of, named Justin Bieber. More fans show up than were anticipated at the Long Island mall where the appearance was set up for. Around 3,000 more to be precise. The police allegedly ask Roppo to send out a message via Twitter telling folks to stop coming and go home. They also want him to “tweet” that Bieber is going to be a no-show. Roppo refuses and he is arrested for reckless endangerment after some girls in attendance were hurt by the pushing crowd.
But what was his duty to act and why was he and not the mall owners arrested? Presumably the mall never asked Roppo to arrange for security, that would be the mall’s responsibility. The crime he is charged with requires that the State prove Roppo acted in reckless disregard of a known risk so what he knew about the crowd and crowd control will be critical. But also critical will be whether the State can prove that his failing to tweet caused the injury to the girls.
While Roppo sounds like he may be a good target of a civil lawsuit, this doesn’t sound like it rises to the level of a crime. After all, this is the same DA’s office that took a pass on prosecuting Walmart last year after a Black Friday stampede at the megastore killed a security guard. The Nassau DA allowed the company to avoid charges by setting up a compensation fund for the victims, and promising jobs for area teens. Certainly Walmart knew alot more about how much of a crowd it gets on that day than Roppo knew about a one-time appearance at a mall. Roppo will be ably represented by my friend Scott Leemon, but he should look to the Walmart case as a precedent for not pressing charges in this scenario. Maybe I’ll tweet him a link to the story.