Detroit police corporal charged with assault in incident where journalists were hit with rubber projectiles

Posted at 10:05 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 22:05:02-04

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged a Detroit police corporal with shooting three photojournalists with non-fatal ammunition.

Corporal Daniel Debono has been charged with three counts of Felonious Assault, with three counts for each of the three victims. The charge carries a maximum penalty of four years.

“The evidence shows that these three journalists were leaving the protest area and that there was almost no one else on the street where they were. They were a threat no one. There are simply no explicable reasons why the alleged actions of this officer where taken,” said Prosecutor Worthy in a news release.

According to the prosecutor's office, Debono was sent to respond to a protest that occurred in Detroit on May 30 and into May 31st, following the death of George Floyd. He was dressed in riot gear and armed with a weapon that fired rubber pellets, as well as his department-issued gun.

After midnight on the 31st, and according to the prosecutor's office after a majority of the protesters had dispersed, Debono and two other officers encountered the three photojournalists at Woodward Avenue and State Street. The three identified themselves as journalists, had their hands up, and asked to cross the street.

According to the prosecutor's office, as the three began crossing the street, Debono allegedly fired his weapon at them, hitting them with rubber pellets. Prosecutors say the shooting was unprovoked and at no time did the three do anything to trigger the shooting.

Chief James Craig responded to the charging of the officer by saying his department launched an investigation when notified by the agency that employs the journalists. He says Debono was suspended with pay while the investigation was conducted, and that suspension will be reexamined now that charged have been issued.

Chief Craig also said he could not address the specific charges as he had not had a chance to examine them. He said he was aware that charges were most likely going to be issued in the case, but he had not been notified of any specifics at the time of his news conference.

All three journalists were injured, with one suffering a wrist injury. Another had bruising on his face, a mark on his nose, and bruising on his ribs. The third sustained injuries to her face, neck, arms, and legs.

It is not yet clear when Debono will be arraigned.