Two teenage girls have been charged with murder after their attempted carjacking led to the car owner’s death in an unfortunate instance recorded on video last week in Washington, D.C. Mohammad Anwar, a 66-year-old immigrant from Pakistan, was working as a delivery driver for Uber Eats when the 13- and 15-year-old girls tried to take his car from him last Tuesday in Southeast Washington.
The episode has sparked a wider debate on social media over whether the charge of murder was appropriate since it was apparent that the girls wanted to steal the car but not necessarily kill Anwar. Critics took umbrage, in particular, with a CNN report that referred to the carjacking and subsequent deadly crash as “an accident.”
The video shows Anwar attempting to prevent his car from being taken by the girls, who are already shown inside the vehicle by the time the video begins. Anwar, struggling with the one who was in the driver’s seat, can be seen looking at the person recording the video and heard saying, “This is my car!”
That’s when a loud revving can be heard from the car, which begins to slowly lurch forward before speeding off with Anwar hanging from the door, which smashed into a structure on a sidewalk as it drove way fast. As the video is still recording, a loud screech is heard followed by an even louder crash. The person filming runs in the direction in which the car drove, showing the car on its side with smoke emanating from it as members of the National Guard try to remove the girls safely from the vehicle.
That’s when the camera pans to the left and shows Anwar’s motionless body sprawled out on the sidewalk.
The video is disturbing and should be watched with discretion.
At 13 and 15, the girls are obviously too young to drive legally. A stun gun was found in the car, leading officials to also charge them with armed carjacking. They have both been charged as juveniles, the Washington Post reported. On Wednesday, they both pleaded “not involved,” which the Post said was “the juvenile equivalent of not guilty.”
One of them reported admitted to the police that they wanted to steal the car but not that they intended to kill Anwar.
That led to a discussion on social media about the girls’ intent following CNN’s characterization of the crash as “an accident in which [Anwar] was fatally injured.”
Critics argued that there was no “accident” since at least one of the girls reportedly admitted that they wanted to steal a car. On the flip side, others claimed Anwar’s death was the “accident.” Lost in both translations was the fact that car crashes are typically referred to as accidents.
It all appeared to be a case of semantics as a family was left to mourn the untimely and violent loss of its patriarch. A GoFundMe account described Anwar as “the financial provider for his family.” As of Sunday afternoon, the online crowdfunding effort had raised more than 5.5 times its goal of $100,000 that will be used “to provide a traditional Islamic funeral for him and assist his family with the loss of income.”