January 25, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Kameron Dominic Alston is a bad guy. He did a bad thing, and the victim will never be the same:
Chicago man appeared in court Sunday over a violent robbery that left a man permanently disabled and in a coma for more than a month.
The offense, unsurprisingly, arose from a drug deal:
Kameron Dominic Alston, 24, arranged on Facebook to buy marijuana from the man, but instead attacked him and left him to die, prosecutors said Sunday. Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil set Alston’s bond at $600,000 in a hearing midday Sunday regarding the aggravated battery and robbery charges against Alston.
Newspapers love the phrase “left him to die.” It’s so dramatic. It’s also pretty much always the case when the victim is dying or close to it at the end of the crime.
It should probably just be assumed that the accused left. Whether it was to give the victim an opportunity to die is the question. Realistically, Alston left because fleeing was an essential part of his plan. It was intrinsic to the ultimate goal of snagging the guy’s weed and getting the hell out of there. That doesn’t have quite the same ring as “left him to die,” unfortunately. Alston also may have left him simply because he didn’t care about whether he was hurt and dying and had other stuff to do. Again, not as appealing a turn of phrase.
While Alston’s precise motivation for leaving the scene might be up for debate, the basic goal of his plan was obvious:
Alston reached out on Facebook to the victim, then 19, to buy marijuana, said Assistant State’s Attorney Holly Grosshans. On June 22, the two agreed to meet at a fictitious address in the Cragin neighborhood that Alston claimed was his home.
The victim arrived at the address in the 2100 block of North Leamington Avenue and found Alston was seated in the driver’s seat of a car, with a woman in the passenger seat. After the two talked for several minutes, the man pulled a bag of marijuana from his shorts pocket, and Alston then stunned him with a punch to the face, prosecutors said.
Alston’s plan was one that’s been around for as long as things have been illegal. People will continue to hatch similar plans until there are no black markets. Don’t hold your breath for that.
The victim intended to do something illegal. He was a nineteen-year-old kid, the first sign he was going to be in over his head doing a deal with a guy like Alston. That he set up the drug deal through Facebook further highlights both his naivety and the fact he’s clearly a member of Generation Z. He probably thought marijuana was fun and harmless, that laws against it are quaint and stupid, and that Facebook was a perfectly acceptable method of arranging a peaceful transaction, even if it did happen to involved an illegal substance. Those things might all be true. The fact marijuana is illegal, however, means there could be some nasty biproducts when someone like Alston gets involved.
People do get robbed when they meet other people to buy or sell things that aren’t illegal, but it’s far more prevalent when the parties are both trying to hide what they’re doing and expect the same from the other person. The victim was less likely to be suspicious of the fictitious address Alston claimed to be his home. He was likely less weirded out by the fact he arrived to see Alston just sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. Those little suspicious thing are giant red flags if you’re meeting a fellow philatelist to sell him your stamp collection. They’re easier to ignore when you’re selling drugs. Not only is someone like Alston’s victim less likely to fully appreciate the danger and more likely to walk into a bad situation, but he’s also less likely to call the police if he gets robbed. He’s the perfect victim.
In the end, Alston’s victim’s biggest problem wasn’t just getting punched in the face and having his weed stolen. That happens all the time, and for the most part, we never hear about it. Instead, the victim’s biggest problem was how Alston handled the situation after the victim continued to hold onto the weed:
Alston grabbed at the arm with which the victim was holding the bag of marijuana and pulled him into the car. Alston then sped down the street until he hit a parked car, causing the man, whose chest, head and neck were inside the car, to be flung into the roadway. Alston fled with the drugs.
Considering the victim’s massive injuries, he’s lucky to be alive:
The victim was rushed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital, where he was treated for serious brain and spine injuries and a broken collar bone. The victim, now 20, is paralyzed from the waist down and in both his hands from the attack.
There are no doubt people who will hear this story and think that it’ll do something to deter other teens from selling marijuana. Those people are terrible people, but they’re also almost certainly wrong. In reality, Alston’s victim probably doesn’t even see marijuana as the problem at this point, and he probably shouldn’t.
We gave Alston the opportunity to commit this crime. It wasn’t like Alston and the victim would’ve bonded over cat videos had Alston not sought him out for the purposes of a drug buy. We allowed conditions to develop that led to the two making contact in the first place. With our laws, we also groomed the victim to tolerate circumstances that should have been a clear warning.
Alston is responsible for the awful thing he did. We helped him, though.