IMPACT

Houston Homeless Man Lay Dead For A Day As Passersby Took Pictures Of Him, Did Nothing To Help

11/01/2013 12:03 pm ET

A homeless man in Houston was left dead on the sidewalk for close to a day as pedestrians walked by, doing nothing to help. Some even took photos of his lifeless body with their cellphones.

"If they just had used their cell phone to make a call instead of a picture, perhaps this man could still be alive today," Sgt. Brian Harris of the Houston Police Department, told KHOU. "I would like to say our city is better than that, I know our city is better than that."

Police said the man, who was discovered dead by a deputy constable on Tuesday, likely died of natural causes. His identity has not been determined.

The behavior of passersby in this case could have something to do with the bystander effect, a phenomenon in which people fail to come to a person's aid because they assume someone else will.

In 2010, after a homeless man was left to bleed to death on a New York City sidewalk, ABC News spoke with Paul Wolpe, director of Emory University's Center for Ethics to try to determine why no one stepped in to help.

"Studies show that if a person comes across someone in need of help, being alone makes them more likely to help," Wolpe said. "If there were 10 people, there is less of a sense of personal responsibility."

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