Onlookers record fight on city bus

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Monday night, punches were thrown on a public bus. Video showing the violent scene is circulating on Facebook, with one man on top of another. A woman sitting next to them couldn't stop it.

A verbal argument turned physical as a HART bus approached the Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa.

Tampa police say a man in a blue shirt and jeans, who appears to be on the receiving end, actually started the fight, based on witness statements and unedited video.

The woman who recorded the video posted it on Facebook using the name Twin TeamNelly.  Her post indicated it was the other way around. She said she didn't intervene because of a recent surgery.

HART  Public Information Officer Sandra Morrison said the driver, who also did not step in, followed protocol.

"Bus operators, we train them to deflect the situation verbally, but never to interfere physically," Morrison said. "The bus operator did contact our dispatch. The dispatchers are the guys who will contact the police department."

People watching the video online are now commenting, asking why no one else helped. You can see another bus rider recording in the background.

These days, when there's a fight happening, there's usually a crowd of onlookers with cell phones. Rather than trying to stop the fight, some are finding it easier to hit record.

Last week, FOX 13 showed cell phone video from a Temple Terrace Publix, not only showing a fight at the deli, but another person recording, feet away.

"Everybody was filming and I realized I should probably call 911 because this guy was probably going to get really hurt," said witness Jessica Jordan.

What would you do?

"'The Bystander Effect' is actually just that, the more people that are around watching a fight or something terrible happening, the less likely anybody is to intervene," Dr. Wendy Rice, a psychologist, said.

Dr. Rice said, these days, people are not only afraid of getting hurt, they're afraid of getting sued.

"We are thinking about who we are going to show this to, and how cool this is for later and preserving it, instead of being in the moment," Rice said.  "I think for the bystander issue, being able to jump in and help is so much more important than preserving it on video."

Waiting for his bus Wednesday afternoon, Ahmed Osman of Wesley Chapel said he wouldn't hesitate.

"I would go and break it up.," Osman said. "Using your cell phone won't protect them. Maybe if he just got a punch in the head it could kill him instantly."

The Tampa Police Department, which is investigating, said it is tough to suggest any bystander step into a situation that could put their own safety in jeopardy. You never know who might be armed.

However, they say at the very least, people should be using their cell phones to call 911 rather than recording a fight.