Was the driver's beating racially motivated? - KMSP-TV

Was the driver's beating racially motivated?

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DETROIT (WJBK) - Police are still asking for the public's assistance identifying a group of people that attacked a driver.

Police say Steve Utash was driving near Morang Drive and Balfour Road about 4:10 p.m. Wednesday when a 10-year-old boy stepped off the curb into the path of his vehicle.

Utash stopped immediately to check on the boy, but was quickly met by a crowd of 10 - 12 people who gathered around him and proceeded to beat him. The driver's wallet and other belongings were also stolen and he was left unconscious at the scene.

The boy is recovering, but Utash remains in the hospital in an induced coma.

A neighbor of Utash's, Allan Rista, believes the attack was racially-charged. Many fans on the FOX 2 Facebook page also have shared their opinions, agreeing with Rista.

Charlie Langton asked State Representative Alberta Tinsley-Talabi on WWJ Newsradio 950 if the suspects, who police have described as being black, were racially motivated when they beat up the driver, who is white.

"I do know that this was an incident that has that appearance. It absolutely does have that appearance," she says.

"The driver gets out and wants to help, but he gets out into an atmosphere that has been charged with negativity. I think that's what she's saying," says Rev. David Bullock of the Greater St. matthew Baptist Church.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Council President Brenda Jones have also shared their thoughts.

They released this statement:

"Earlier this week, a traffic accident that injured a young boy, David Harris, escalated into a vicious attack on the driver of the vehicle, Steve Utash, who had done the right thing by stopping to check on the boy. This senseless vigilante style attack is not the essence of who we are as Detroiters and will not be tolerated.
We are asking all Metro Detroiters to demonstrate our true character by exercising calm and patience during this emotionally charged time. Most important, we must all keep Mr. Utash, David Harris and their families in our prayers. We also are calling on members of our community who know the individuals involved in this brutal attack to step forward so that justice can be served and healing can begin."

Rev. Bullock says the community should step up to help Utash's family pay medical bills.

"I've already reached out to some pastors and we're going to raise some money on Sunday morning at our church, and [are] calling all pastors around the city to do the same. Let's help this family," he says.

You can also make a donation towards Utash's medical bills by clicking here.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident or the suspects to speak up.

You can call the Detroit Police Department at (313) 596-1616, or Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

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