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Detroit motorist beating: Four men face attempted murder for racial beatdown

From left to right, Wonzy Saffold, James Davis, Latrez Cummings and Bruce Wimbush Jr.
From left to right, Wonzy Saffold, James Davis, Latrez Cummings and Bruce Wimbush Jr.
Rebecca Cook / Getty Images

A Detroit motorist’s beating on April 2 – which has left the victim still hospitalized – has now led the four attackers to face charges of attempted murder. On Monday, the four accused assaulters – all young African American men – answered to charges of punching and kicking a Detroit motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy with his vehicle. The men, who witnessed the accident, attacked the helpless motorist, who is white, in a chaotic, mob-like assail that many are saying was racially motivated.

According to an April 21 report from The Associated Press, Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all played a role in the horrific attack on Steve Utash. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Jackson ruled that probable cause was established, and the four men will see their case go to trial.

Witness Deborah Hughes testified at the trial. Hughes, a registered nurse, is crediting with saving Utash’s life by intervening and putting a halt to the vicious assault. Hughes described a chaotic scene. Speaking of the four men, she said: “They were hollering and screaming 'Oh, my God, get him, get him.’” Hughes said Cummings kicked the victim at least 10 times.

On April 2, the 54-year-old Utash, a tree-trimmer, was driving through Detroit’s East side. The 10-year-old boy darted out in front of Utash’s pickup truck, and was accidentally hit. Utash immediately stopped and got out to check on the boy. When he did so, the men moved in. The boy, whose name was not released, is the nephew of one of the attackers. The boy was treated for a broken leg and released, but Utash remains in critical condition.

CBS News said that at least 10 to 12 attackers converged on Utash, and repeatedly hit the victim. A witness told CBS Detroit that one of the attackers said, “You hit my nephew, you're going to die.” Attacker Saffold told investigators: “I saw the little boy on the ground ... and I lost it.”

According to the AP report, as carried by MSN News, “Utash's family sat in the front row of the courtroom, while relatives of the accused men sat directly behind them in three rows. There were deep sighs, sobbing and muffled utterances of ‘liar’ during the testimony. Some spectators were ejected by sheriff's deputies.”

Utash’s brother-in-law Max Mohr said Utash is struggling in his recovery. He attempted to walk for the first time last week with the aid of multiple nurses but only lasted a few paces. “He’s not the Steve I know – not even close,” Mohr said. Utash spent days in a coma following the beatdown. He had multiple internal injuries and broken bones.

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