In a Detroit mob attack last Wednesday, a 54-year-old man was brutally beaten by a group of men after he struck a 10-year-old boy with his vehicle who had darted out into the street. The police in Detroit are now working to establish whether the attack was racially motivated, a hate crime, or simply a case of hot-headed revenge.
Four suspects have already been arrested and taken into custody for the beating of the victim, Steven Utash, who is from the Clinton Township. He remains in a critical condition in hospital and has been put into a medically induced coma.
The incident took place on Detroit’s east side where Utash was driving his pickup truck. Apparently, a 10-year-old boy jumped into the road and Utash was unable to avoid hitting him. When he got out of his vehicle to help the boy he was set upon by an angry mob.
Due to the fact that Utash is white, and all of the attackers in the mob were black, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said investigators were looking into the possibility that the mob attack should be treated as a hate crime.
Craig spoke to The Detroit News, saying: “We’re widening the scope of our investigation. 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 (a hate crime classification) is definitely something we’re considering.”
He also told reporters that Utash was not at fault, and did the right thing by exiting his vehicle to attend to the child he had hit: “What happened to that man was tragic, and should not have happened,” the police chief said.
The victim’s son, Joe Utash, spoke to CBS Detroit’s Newsradio 950 about the Detroit mob attack on his father: “It has to be a racial thing. There’s people that literally just pulled up at that gas station to get out of their car and walk around their car to go up to my dad and kick him, and just kick him over and over and over again,” he said.
The boy who was struck by Utash suffered a broken leg, and the only bystander to come to Utash’s assistance was Deborah Hughes, a nurse who was at the gas station near to where the beating took place.
Hughes told reporters: “He was bleeding, he had a big gash on the side of his head and he couldn’t take any more licks and I wasn’t willing to stand there and let them keep beating him. He was so traumatized, this man was like, ‘Is he all right? Is he all right? Oh Lord, tell me he’s OK. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. He didn’t drive off. He got out the truck and he walked back, and they just beat him like he was nothing.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the police will treat the Detroit mob attack as a hate crime which may have been racially motivated; the investigation continues.