There is a case out of San Diego that raises some of the same issues as the infamous biker attack on a family in a van in New York city last year. In this case it was zombies. Various people dressed up outside Comic Con for a “Zombie Walk” where they walked like brain-dead undead down the street. To prove the first criteria, various members attacked a car of a family with children. The entire family was deaf. Despite their pleas, these people pounded on the car and one jumped on the hood and broke the windshield. The family then tried to pull away and struck a 64-year-old woman in the crowd.
The incident raises some interesting tort and criminal issues. For the moron on the car and those pounding on it, there should be criminal charges from assault to criminal damage. One interesting charge could be the terrorism provision used against some racists (and controversial from free speech perspectives), but given the attack on the car (as private property) it could be viewed as terrorizing even when dressed in a costume:
Any person who engages in a pattern of conduct for the purpose
of terrorizing the owner or occupant of private property or in
reckless disregard of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that
private property, by placing or displaying a sign, mark, symbol,
emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to,
a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another on two or more
occasions, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision
(h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine
not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and
imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one
year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by
both the fine and imprisonment. A violation of this subdivision shall
not constitute felonious conduct for purposes of Section 186.22.
Obviously, these people could also be sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, and other torts.
The family’s legal status also raises tough questions. The family was technically fleeing and will argue that they were engaged in classic self-defense after the man jumped on their hood and broke their window. Injuries caused by emergency situations can be excused. Even mistaken self-defense can be privileged in torts. The family can argue that they were terrified and trying to protect their children in the assault. The defense is a lack of intent and justified fear. Even under a negligence theory, many jurors would likely view their actions as reasonable under the circumstances — assuming that these circumstances are proven.