By Beth Dalbey
Detroit, Michigan – Race played a role in the April 2 attack on Steven Utash, who was severely beaten by an angry mob when he stopped to assist a boy he accidentally hit with his pickup, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Thursday.
One of five individuals charged in the brutal beating, a minor whose name was not released by authorities, has been charged under Michigan’s ethnic intimidation statute. He also has been charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Utash, who is white, was beat by a group of 12 black men.
Though the juvenile was charged under Michigan’s ethnic intimidation, Worthy said charges against four adults do not meet the criteria for an ethnic intimidation charge, the prosecutor said.
“As in all cases with multiple defendants we must evaluate each person’s actions individually to assess their alleged criminal conduct,” Worthy told the Free Press. “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.”
Detroit police initially said there was no evidence to support the attack was racially motivated, but this week opened the door to include the possibility that it was a hate crime. “The issue of race is being looked at as a possible motive,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.
A fifth suspect, Latrez Cummings, 19, was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the attack. Three others face the same charges: Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., 17; Wonzey Saffold, 30; and James Deontae Davis, 24.
Utash remains in a medically induced coma but is healing, members of his family said. He doesn’t have medical insurance and could remain in the hospital for up to six months.
By 2 p.m. Thursday, a Go Fund Me site had raised $154,825 – more than three times the goal established when the fund was set up Friday.