Detroit Teen Charged With Hate Crime in Brutal Mob Beating of Motorist

A 16-year-old was charged Thursday with assault and a hate crime after a driver stopped to check on a 10-year-old boy he’d accidentally hit with his truck.

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Steve Utash

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A 16-year-old Detroit boy was charged Thursday with assault and a hate crime in the brutal group beating of a 54-year-old man, Steve Utash, who stopped to check on a 10-year-old boy whom he had just struck with his pickup truck, the Associated Press reports.

Yesterday Detroit police announced that they had arrested a fifth person in connection with the beating, 19-year-old Latrez Cummings. Detroit police Chief James Craig told reporters during a news briefing that more arrests connected to the April 2 attack are "a strong possibility," since it has been reported that the driver was attacked by anywhere from six to 12 people.

So far, however, the 16-year-old is the only one out of the five charged in the attack to face an ethnic-intimidation count. Utash is white. The teen and four adults charged in his beating are black.

"In the case of the 16-year-old charged as a juvenile, we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crimes of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation," Kym Worthy, Wayne County's prosecutor, told AP. "In the case of the four adult defendants that have been charged, the facts and the evidence do not support a charge of ethnic intimidation."

According to the Christian Science Monitor, 17-year-old Bruce Wimbush Jr., 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold and 24-year-old James Davis were all arraigned on Tuesday. All three have been charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm.

The 16-year-old boy also faces a hearing Saturday, but he has not been named because he is being treated as a minor.

Utash, a tree trimmer from a nearby town, was driving a company pickup truck when 10-year-old David Harris stepped from a curb into the path of his vehicle, AP reports. When Utash stopped to see if he could help the boy, people attacked him. Earlier this week, Utash was listed in critical condition and in a medically induced coma at a Detroit hospital after suffering severe head injuries from punches and kicks. He remains hospitalized.

David suffered a leg injury and was released from the hospital the same day.

Clergy from across Detroit will hold "A Night of Healing" and prayer service Thursday evening for Utash, AP reports. Mayor Mike Duggan and members of Utash's family will attend the vigil.

"We need to send a crystal-clear statement to the world that the violent actions of a few individuals will not cast a cloud of negativity over our city," the Rev. Jim Holley said Wednesday in a release, viewed by AP. "We are inviting everyone to participate to show support that this is a region of hope, peace and renewal."

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