Tags: detroit | beating | hate | crime

Detroit Beating of Driver Who Hit Boy May Be Hate Crime, Say Police

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 11:07 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Two more men have been arrested in the mob beating of Steve Utash in Detroit, who pulled over to help a boy he accidentally hit after the boy stepped in front of his truck. Utash is white, his attackers are black, and police think the incident may have been a racially-motivated hate crime.

According to The Detroit Free Press, the two suspects, ages 24 and 30, were arrested Monday, while prosecutors announced charges against 17-year-old Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr. and 16-year-old Courtney Robinson who were both still in custody after the April 2 incident. They are both charged with assault with intent to murder, the former as an adult, the latter as a juvenile.

Utash, 54, a local tree-trimmer, remains in critical condition in a medically-induced coma after being attacked and left unconscious by a mob of up to a dozen people, police said. The 10-year-old boy, David Harris, suffered a broken leg after he darted out into Morang Street near Balfour and was hit by Utash's truck.

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Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones called the assault a "senseless vigilante style attack," however Detroit Police Chief James Craig said "I see no indication, based on where we are in this investigation, that this is an act of vigilantism."

Instead, Craig said police are now exploring the possibility that the incident was a racially-motivated one that may constitute a hate crime. Video footage of the incident shows that Utash's attackers were black, while he is white.

"We’re widening the scope of our investigation," Craig said in response to the hate crime allegation. "Both our strategy and the prosecutor’s strategy is widening, and those factors are being looked into very closely. I can’t reveal some things about our investigation, but that is definitely something we’re considering."

The Associated Press reports that Rev. Horace Sheffield III, said Saturday that it was important for community members "to prove that we equally deplore justice and unbridled brutality no matter what color the victim is or of the one committing it."

Because Utash has no medical insurance, a webpage has been started to collect donations for his medical bills. As of Monday, it had already raised more than $120,000.

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