3 Journalists Hit With Rubber Bullets, and Cop Is Charged

Detroit Cpl. Daniel Debono faces felony assault charges in May 31 incident
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2020 11:27 AM CDT
Cop Who Fired Rubber Bullets at Journalists Is Charged
Police officers launch tear gas canisters at protesters in Detroit on May 31 during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.   (David Guralnick/The Detroit News via AP)

A Detroit police corporal is charged with felony assault after allegedly shooting three journalists with rubber bullets. Nicole Hester of MLive and two photojournalists, Seth Herald for AFP and Matt Hatcher for Getty Images, encountered Cpl. Daniel Debono and two other officers while leaving a protest over the death of George Floyd in the early hours of May 31. All three journalists were wearing press credentials and identified themselves as press as they asked to cross a street, their hands in their air, reports the New York Times. As they moved to cross, Debono fired rubber bullets, striking all three, according to Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy. "There are simply no explicable reasons why the alleged actions of this officer were taken," Worthy says. She adds the journalists "were a threat to no one" and "there was almost no one else on the street."

MLive reports Hester, 30, was hit with up to a dozen projectiles, with some "narrowly missing an eye." Hatcher, 29, experienced bruises on his face and ribs and a mark on his nose, while Herald, 28, suffered an injured wrist. A department rep says Debono, 32, was suspended during an investigation. The results were then presented to the prosecutor's office "for review and charging recommendations," per the Times. Debono was charged Monday with three counts of felonious assault, which could bring a maximum sentence of four years. Even so, Police Chief James Craig claims the department—facing more than 20 allegations of misconduct—"performed in a spectacular manner." "You've got to remember, we have a youthful workforce, and I don't know of a time in the recent past that we've had to deal with violent protesters," he tells the Detroit Free Press. (More felony assault stories.)

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