Detroit prosecutors charge juvenile in mob beating of motorist

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 10, 2014 2:35 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - Prosecutors in Detroit on Thursday charged a 16-year-old with a hate crime in the severe beating of a motorist who stopped to help a 10-year-old boy he struck accidentally.

The 16-year-old was charged as a juvenile with assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation in connection with the beating of Steven Utash, on April 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

Charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily were also announced on Thursday against Latrez Cummings, 19, the fourth adult arrested in the case, Worthy said.

Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, Wonzey Safford, 30, and James Davis, 24, face the same adult charges as Cummings in the incident that has drawn national attention.

Worthy said in the statement that in the case of those four defendants "the facts and the evidence does not support a charge of ethnic intimidation."

All five are accused of being part of a crowd of 10 or 12 bystanders who attacked Utash, who is white, after his car struck the child who had stepped off a curb into traffic, police said.

Prosecutors have not discussed possible motives for the attack and the police investigation remains open.

The child, David Harris, was treated for a leg injury and released from hospital a day after the incident. Police determined that Utash's collision with the boy was an accident and no charges were warranted against Utash, authorities said.

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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city council President Brenda Jones last week called for calm and condemned the assault as a "senseless vigilante-style attack."

Utash, 54, who is from a Detroit suburb, remained in critical condition Thursday at a Detroit hospital.

Supporters of Utash have said the man has no insurance and his family needs help to pay growing medical bills. More than $154,000 had been raised as of Thursday morning through the GoFundMe crowdfunding website.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Andrew Hay)