Crime and Safety Report: January
Imagine the following scenario: you’re strolling through Potrero Hill with a friend on your way to dinner. A masked man appears, points a gun at you, and demands your belongings. What’s your first instinct? Run? Hand over your belongings? Scream?
Vermont Street resident Christopher DeNoia faced this situation one evening last fall while he was walking towards the 18th Street pedestrian bridge with a female friend, passing other foot-travelers along the way. As the pair neared the bridge, a black, two-door Mercedes-Benz CLK pulled up. A man jumped out of the car wearing a dark hoodie and Halloween mask. The man pointed a gun at DeNoia, and demanded his iPhone. DeNoia’s female friend, who was holding a beverage in a red solo cup, splashed the assailant with the drink and ran towards 18th street.
“Personally, my gut feeling was this guy was going to hurt us regardless, and action was better than inaction,” said DeNoia, who stepped forward and punched the man in the face with a right hook, hitting his mask. “The man [then] hit me in the head with the gun, and I knocked the gun out of his hands, towards the sidewalk near the walking bridge. I took a few steps to pick up the gun, and the attacker jumped back in his car and drove up San Bruno, towards 19th Street, getting away.” DeNoia picked up the weapon, which turned out to be a four millimeter BB gun that looked real, down to its fake safety.
Injuries to DeNoia’s hand required him to get four screws placed in his finger. He was left with a mean scar and more than $11,000 of uninsured medical bills. A neighbor who preferred not to be identified witnessed the incident, and confirmed DeNoia’s story.
Although DeNoia has studied Tae Kwon Do, some family members and friends have questioned whether he properly handled the situation, offering to buy him a new iPhone if he ever faced something similar. “Most people understand the reality that you do not know how you are going to react to a situation until you are in that situation,” DeNoia said. The documentary, The Human Behavior Experiments, highlights this well.”
The Human Behavior Experiments follows psychological studies that examined how humans act in different situations. Stanley Milgram’s well-known electroshock experiment – which tested whether people will shock another human if they’re told to by an authoritative figure – is included in the film.
“I probably should have just given him the phone and taken down all the details I could about the car, etc.,” said DeNoia. “Either that, or I should have just kept attacking and put him down.”
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