The late Kenneth Sutter
Harley Branham, 21, a manager at the Dairy Queen in Fayette, Missouri, has been charged with second degree felony manslaughter following the suicide of 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner, whom she supervised. At an inquest called by the Howard County coroner, witnesses testified that Branham mistreated the teen. She made Suttner lie on the restaurant floor as he cleaned it by hand, and once threw a cheeseburger at him. Other witnesses said the boy also had been bullied for years at his school, where students mocked his weight and a speech impediment.
The coroner’s jury blamed both the Dairy Queen and the Glasgow School District for failures in training and prevention of harassment, concluding that Branham “was the principal in the cause of death,” and also that Dairy Queen negligently failed to properly train employees about harassment prevention and resolution, according to the inquest’s verdict form. Jurors also found that the Glasgow Public School system was negligent in failing to prevent his bullying.
All of those factors, the inquest concluded, caused the boy “to take his own life.”
Suttner shot himself on December 21, 2015.
Howard County Coroner Frank Flaspohler explained the inquest and the verdict, saying, “I felt there was bullying going on and things weren’t getting corrected. Hopefully this makes the school pay attention to what’s going on. And it’s not just in that school. We all need to wake up and say this exists and we need to take care of it.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
Is this an ethical use of the criminal laws?
“You have to look at it from every child’s point of view that was raised in the hood. You have to understand … how he gonna get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point of view.”
—Nautika Harris (above, right), the cousin of a 17-year-old teen shot dead by a 54-year-old Miami woman as he tried to exit her home, which he had entered to burglarize.
Miami-Dade police say that Trevon Johnson, 17, burglarized the home of a 54-year-old old woman last week.
She was not in the house when the break-in occurred, but after being alerted by her surveillance system, she rushed home and found Johnson climbing out of a window. She shot him dead, and his relatives are outraged.
“I don’t care if she have her gun license or any of that. That is way beyond the law … way beyond,” Johnson’s cousin Nautika Harris told local radio station WFOR. “He was not supposed to die like this. He had a future ahead of him. Trevon had goals … he was a funny guy, very big on education, loved learning.”
And loved burglary, apparently. Continue reading
When they take the field in Spring Training and for the rest of the 2015 baseball season, the St. Louis Cardinals will be wearing a memorial patch reading “OT” in honor of outfielder Oscar Taveras, the 22-year-old budding star outfielder who died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic last October. Such mourning patches have become common since 1972, when the Pittsburgh Pirates moved beyond the traditional black armband to a personalized patch following the tragic death of the team’s Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente in a plane crash, as he was flying humanitarian aid to Nicaragua.
Taveras, however, unlike Clemente, died in an act of reckless stupidity that took not only his own life but that of his 18-year-old girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, as well. Toxicology tests showed that his blood alcohol level was five times the legal limit before the crash. situation is more complex because toxicology tests showed that his blood alcohol level at the time of his death was five times the legal limit. Moreover, Taveras’, also was killed in the crash. If Taveras had lived and Arvelo alone had died, he would have been prosecuted for manslaughter.
And thus your first Ethics Alarms Baseball Ethics Quiz of 2015 is this:
Is it ethical for the Cardinals to publicly honor Taveras with a uniform patch?
…I will be on NPR. live, around 11:45 Pacific time as part of a discussion about the Matt Cordle video confession, which I posted about here.
The video is self-explanatory, I think.
I’m certain some will say that it is self-serving, that he made the video to try to minimize his punishment. This could be, and so what? The YouTube confession is still the best, most honest, most ethical, most courageous option that he had, once he had made the tragic and irresponsible decision to drive while intoxicated. Many, indeed most, and arguably all ethical acts have an element of self-serving in them. If they are right, they are right.
Imagine how much better society and the justice system would be if those who committed crimes fulfilled their societal duty to admit them, apologize, and accept their just punishment. Cordle, ironically, is not merely an Ethics Hero, but a role model.