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Charges were issued on Friday against Damire Palmer, the 18-year-old black man accused of attacking a white Macy's employee earlier this month. Despite a claim made by the suspect's brother that the victim had used a racial slur, Macy's says an internal investigation of the incident concluded the attack was unprovoked.
"All the materials from the evening have been reviewed and it is clear that the attack was unprovoked," the company said in a statement. "We are working closely with local authorities on this investigation, and will defer any further comments about the case to them per policy."
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton announced a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, a 10-year felony.
"This was an unprovoked attack on a Macy’s employee," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Friday. "This behavior, as seen on the video, is unacceptable, it is criminal and it cannot be allowed."
Leyton said he does not believe any racial slur was used by the employee, noting that "even if there had been, it does not condone nor justify the assault by Mr. Palmer."
Many believe the suspect would be charged with a hate crime if the races of the suspect and the victim were reversed. But Leyton said the evidence does not support the charge.
"I know a lot of people are calling this a hate crime but, under the laws of Michigan, the evidence simply does not support that charge," Leyton contended.
Video of the incident shows Palmer sucker-punching the 50-year-old Macy's manager from behind as the employee was folding clothing. The employee falls to the ground and asks his assailant why he punched him.
"What did you do that for?" asks the employee.
Palmer then punches the victim two more times in the head. The video ends, at which time Palmer and his brother, a rapper who filmed the attack, reportedly fled the department store.
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This African American man beat a white employee of a Macy’s.— HARLAN Z. HILL ???? (@Harlan) June 20, 2020
Security footage shows the attack was unprovoked.
Watch the video and tell me this shouldn’t be investigated as a hate crime.
Police are still currently looking for Damire Palmer. Once apprehended, Palmer will be arraigned on the felony charge in the 67th District Court.
(Damire Palmer pictured left)
Damire Palmer, 18, of Mount Morris and Damarquay Palmer, 22, of Flint Township have been identified by police as the two suspects involved that were allegedly involved in the attack on a Macy's employee in a viral video earlier this week. pic.twitter.com/z5pM8eAHal— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 21, 2020