Two men charged in mob beating of motorist in Detroit

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 08, 2014 6:00 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - Prosecutors in Detroit charged two men with assault on Tuesday in the severe beating of a motorist who stopped to help a 10-year-old boy he struck accidentally last week, raising to three the number of people now charged in the "vigilante-style" attack.

Wonzey Safford, 30, and James Davis, 24, were charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the beating of Steven Utash, 54, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

"This investigation is continuing and widening," Worthy said in a statement. Prosecutors have not discussed possible motives for the attack.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city council President Brenda Jones on Friday issued a joint statement calling for calm and condemning the "senseless vigilante-style attack" on Utash, which has drawn national attention to the city.

On Tuesday, $500,000 bond was set for both Safford and Davis along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., the first person charged in the case. Wimbush, 17, faces the same charges as Safford and Davis.

Utash, 54, remained in critical condition at a Detroit hospital, according to police.

Wimbush, Davis and Safford are accused of being part of a crowd of 10 or 12 bystanders who attacked Utash last Wednesday after his car struck the child, who had stepped off a curb into traffic, police said.

Police have said they determined the collision was an accident and will not pursue charges against Utash. The child, David Harris, had a leg injury and was released from the hospital on Thursday, authorities said.

Wimbush was taken into custody on Saturday along with a 16-year-old, who has yet to be charged, according to prosecutors.

A decision on whether the 16-year-old should face charges, and whether it would be as an adult or a juvenile, is expected to be announced on Saturday, said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County prosecutor.

Supporters of Utash, who is from the Detroit suburbs, had raised more than $133,000 as of Tuesday morning through the GoFundMe crowdfunding website to help cover his medical bills.

A Facebook page set up by supporters said Utash has no insurance and his family needs help to pay his medical bills.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by David Bailey, Cynthia Osterman and Gunna Dickson)