Shocking footage of a young girl being savagely beaten as three security guards standby watching, has shocked America.
The CCTV images show the victim being repeatedly punched and kicked, even as she lies unconscious on the ground.
All the while three burly security guards do nothing to help her.
Olympic Security, the guards' employers defended their action (or rather, inaction) saying that their staff are unarmed civilians and were therefore under strict instructions not to intervene in violent situations, but instead to call 911.
The unnamed victim said she had sought out the security guards for protection after an altercation with a gang of youths inside a store.
"I know that I am about to get jumped and I am hanging around the guards to try and get protection," she said, "I thought the security guards would defend me."
The gang had been harassing the girl, accusing her of 'acting white' and 'having nice things' before they attacked her and stole her bag containing a mobile phone and iPod.
Despite the viciousness of the assault, amazingly the victim did not require further hospital treatment. She has a heart condition and had been attempting to protect her chest as she was being beaten.
Police have arrested four people in connection with the incident, including the alleged attacker, Dominique Whittaker,18.
The CCTV footage has triggered an outcry after it was widely broadcast on the Internet and across news networks in the US.
There has been much fury directed at the guards and their employers. Metro Transit, who were using the firm, are reviewing their contract in light of the events.
'We are very disappointed in what people see in that video,' said a spokesman for Metro Transit.
"It was absolutely unacceptable. I know the Olympic Security folks were also disappointed in the response, but again, the employees were following the letter of the agreement."
A witness to the attack said, "You've got three male security guards and there's a young girl getting kicked in the head, lying on the ground, motionless? And they couldn't do anything? Doesn't seem like security."
What is the point of security which offers no protection? Who is to blame?
Is it the security guards themselves for hiding behind their contract and refusing to get involved? Or their employers for discouraging Good Samaritans and ordering their staff to do nothing?