Monday, April 7, 2014

Detroit mob beats driver who hits child

I was going to write about a foreign policy situation that was on my mind but that can wait as some news a bit closer to home is getting national attention. A suburban man named Steven Utash (pictured above with family) driving a pickup truck accidentally hit a young Detroit boy who ran out into the street. The man got out to help/see what happened and was attacked by a group of teens and men who beat him into a coma.
One of two teens is charged with assault with intent to murder after their arrest on suspicion in the brutal beating of a driver who hit a Detroit boy last week, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Monday. Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., 17, faces charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Wimbush is to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. today in 36th District Court before Magistrate Millicent Sherman. The 16-year-old hasn’t been charged yet and remains in Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center, with a court hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Juvenile Detention Center. The two are believed to have been among a crowd that attacked Steven Utash, 54, of Clinton Township on April 2 after his truck struck a 10-year-old boy who ran into the street. When Utash got out to check on the boy, he was severely beaten by people “with their fists and feet,” according to a news release from Worthy.
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. There are many reasons I live outside the city but a major one certainly has to be crime. The city has a high number of crimes of violence and theft. The city has a new police chief who has overseen many high profile arrests and raids as well as an increasing number of Detroit citizens who, faced with home invasions, have fought back with deadly force. But an incident like the one shown in the video below the jump can lead to increased fear and loathing between city and non-city residents. It also may lead to a man dying. Accusations of racial animus and bias are over local radio stations and newspaper comment sections. I don't really know about that. I suspect that the mob may well have attacked the driver regardless of his race. But that's small comfort to the driver who is currently clinging to his life or to the young boy with a broken leg. If some or all of the mob can be shown to have acted out of racial animus then they should be charged under the relevant hate crimes laws. I have no problem with that. I do find it sadly ironic that locally some mostly white people are immediately certain that race was an issue in this case but did not see race in the George Zimmerman case.

We can't take the law into our own hands without giving everyone else the same ability and thus devolving into a Max Max society. Some cynics would likely claim that some areas of Detroit are already like that. This incident brought up questions of when if ever it is appropriate to hit someone and not stop. My understanding is that you're supposed to stop or go to the nearest police station. It also raised the question of who is at fault when a pedestrian is hit. When I learned to drive it was drilled into me that the pedestrian almost always has the right of way, even if they do something stupid. I do a lot of driving in Ann Arbor, where pedestrians and bicyclists routinely ignore the most basic traffic laws. However here the initial police investigation has determined that the driver was not at fault. So there was no reason for anyone to have attacked Utash. Now if this man dies, would his family or friends then be justified in finding the people who did it and removing them from the planet. Because that is what would be on my mind. But where does it stop. There has to be one law for everyone. And that means that no matter how much you might want to deal out some street justice, you can't do that. Many of us have been in or will be in an auto accident at some point in our life. Should we really expect that even in tragic situations like this one, that we should prepare for a mob attack? There is another local case where evidently white or Arabic men beat a white Army vet because he said or did something nice for a black person. UPDATE: Prosecutor declines to file charges against men who beat Army vet. She says vet started the confrontationLINK

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