If you’ve never played doorbell ditch (a/k/a ding dong ditch), well, you’re from Mars. Still, as common as it is, kids who hear this story may think twice about it. And perhaps the “victims” of this harmless prank will think twice about how they react. From an article in the Albany Times-Union:
A lawyer retained by the parents of a 14-year-old prankster tackled by a Delmar homeowner characterized the man as an over-aggressive vigilante.
The attorney’s account of the incident challenged the folk hero status a deluge of online commentators have granted 37-year-old homeowner Daniel P. Van Plew since the incident Saturday night when the boy rang his doorbell and tried to run away with three friends.
What do you think?
“He (Van Plew) crossed the line. He never should have used that kind of force when he realized it was a 14-year-old who’s a small kid,” said attorney Kristie Hanson, who represents the teen’s parents, Rob and Ann Madeo of Glenmont.
The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, is 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds. Van Plew is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and plays hockey.
Speaking on behalf of the Madeos at her Rotterdam law office on Thursday, Hanson alleged that Van Plew tackled the teen on the asphalt roadway of Egmont Court more than 100 feet beyond his property line, roughly dragged the boy back inside his house with his arms pinioned behind his back, forced him to sit on the floor and said he was going to kill the boy if he tried to leave.
Both Van Plew and the police report stated that the Madeo boy was brought down in the homeowner’s yard, an important legal distinction because a homeowner is afforded more protection in a case of self-defense that occurs on one’s property compared to off the property.
Hanson said the three other teens engaged with the Madeo boy in “ding-dong ditch” concur that Van Plew tackled the teen off the homeowner’s property. “People have a right to defend their homes and property, but when they leave their property to effect a citizen’s arrest, the use of force has to be reasonable based on the crime committed,” said Lt. Robert Berben.
Interesting, right? You can read more – a fair amount – by clicking here.
Update: Mr. Van Plew was charged and … the charges were dropped. Read about it here.