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Detroit cop who allegedly fired rubber bullets at photojournalists charged with felony assault

2020-07-22

A Detroit police officer has been charged with multiple felony counts after he allegedly shot three photojournalists with rubber pellets during an anti-police brutality protest in May.

Daniel Debono, a 32-year-old corporal, has been suspended with pay and faces three counts of felony assault against the photojournalists, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office confirmed to the Daily News.

The photojournalists, 30-year-old Nicole Hester, 28-year-old Seth Herald and 29-year-old Matthew Hatcher, had been covering the May 31 protest when Debono stopped them around midnight, according to prosecutor Kim Worthy.

All three journalists identified themselves as media, including showing press credentials, to Debono, who was wearing riot gear. As the group attempted to cross the street with their hands raised, Debono allegedly began firing rubber bullets.

Herald hurt his wrist during the assault, while Hatcher suffered a bruised face and injuries to his ribs. Hester was hit in the face, neck, arms and legs.

“The shooting was unprovoked. At no time did the three complainants do anything to cause the defendant to shoot at them,” Worthy said in a statement. “They were a threat to no one. There are simply no explicable reasons why the alleged actions of this officer were taken.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig defended his department Monday and said Debono was an outlier.

“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 said during a press conference, according to the Free Press. “So, by and large, this department performed in a spectacular manner.”