“Detroit deputy fire commissioner Fred Wheeler has been removed from office following a physical altercation with WJBK reporter Charlie LeDuff on Tuesday,” Andrew Gauthier reported Thursday for TVSpy.
“Working on a story about filthy conditions at a number of Detroit fire houses, LeDuff approached Wheeler on the street and things instantly went south.
” ‘You better get the [four-letter expletive — should we spell it out as the original story does? Tell us here.] away from me,’ Wheeler told LeDuff once he saw him. When LeDuff stepped closer to ask a question, Wheeler slapped the microphone out of his hand.
“Detroit mayor Dave Bing, who LeDuff continually addressed by name in his report, issued a statement today, announcing that Wheeler had been ‘unappointed.’
” ‘My administration has investigated the incident between Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler and Fox2 reporter Charlie LeDuff,’ Bing said in his statement. ‘We have a code of conduct for our appointees and we determined the Deputy Fire Commissioner violated that code in this unfortunate incident.’
“In a follow-up report on Wednesday, LeDuff recited from the fire department’s code of conduct.”
LeDuff, who is one-eighth Native American (Ojibwa). worked for the New York Times from 1995 to 2007 and was part of the paper’s prize-winning 2001 series, “How Race Is Lived in America.” A University of Michigan graduate, he left for the Detroit News to write investigative and human interest features, then left the News in 2010.
“A man’s got to find a reason after 45 years to feel it,” LeDuff told Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business at the time. “I want to feel it.”