I think William hit the nail on the head with his last post for many of those who indicate the Cell phone guy's "part" in the proceedings. I don't think many were trying to lay blame on Mr. Cell Phone, but just to indicate the various factors that resulted in the incident at the end.
It's all causality imho. For example:
1) You cut in front someone in a line, you are liable to be corrected in some form or fashion - how this is done decides what happens next based on a few other variables.
2) You are standing in a line and someone cuts in front of you - you have a few options of how to deal with the situation, the method you choose has an effect on what happens next.
Had the Cell phone guy not been so insulated from his immediate reality he may have realised that the woman was irate before she even entered the place, was unbalanced enough to be actively looking for conflict with someone and he may also have realised that it was no coincidence that the big guy came in as soon as she went for the door after the incident with the Manager (the manager saw the relationship between them when arguing with the woman, he made an about face for the counter as soon as the big guy came in). So as indicated before Mr. Cell Phone's lack of awareness was the main issue. He is not to be blamed imho for what happened to him, but he did play a role in the result. I think William summed it up nicely here -
Instead of providing a more direct and constructive statement, such as "Excuse me,The line starts back here", cell phone guy chose to be annoying,and indirect. I think what he said was meant to embarrass the woman. Even if it were in just, you never know how people are going to take it. His comment did little to help the situation.
Also, there are a lot of follow up news reports
with the edited version of what happened available online. From my understanding the big guy was an ex-convict so it was not like he was unaccustomed to this typical prison type Blitzkrieg attack (which is what he did for those in the know). I also do not believe he was innocent in what happened, I think he took the opportunity of his female friend's rage to explode on someone. It just so happened that Mr. Cell Phone was selected. His little statement, which may have passed unnoticed on any other day by anyone else, was enough to light the dynamite on this situation. It was just a poor judgement call imho.
On the point of awareness, I can't count how many situations I personally know of where people got on the wrong end of physical encounters of assault or abuse when they tried to "set things right", having initially underestimated the degree of resistance they were dealing with. A well known martial artist in this country died via gunshot in a robbery for this sort of misjudgement of a situation. Cell phone guy thought he only had to deal with the irate woman and started to argue with her when he should have started making for the door (if he hadn't left already). He should have taken a quick look around, at which time he would have seen the man mountain standing behind her which as the Manager realised, was no coincidence. I honestly think Cell Phone guy just was not there mentally and made some really bad decisions.
But on the bright side he will be $25,000 richer soon
. Not trying to protect himself will help his case immensely. He should have sued for more though.
Hell of a thing when violence breaks through the psychological bubble created by our protective societal norms and conventions and our "social contract" with each other. I guess this is why folks who live daily on the pointy edge of things tend to be labelled as paranoid when in fact they see every day what so-called "human beings" are capable of. I think it's good to remember that there can be a harsh, brutal reality hiding behind all the layers of laws, conventions, society and civilisation we try to put up. It may help us realise a millisecond sooner that it's time to "run like hell" instead of hoping that the societal structure of civil behaviour will always be there to save us.
Just some thoughts.