A judge on Tuesday dismissed the charges against a Detroit police officer who was accused of firing rubber bullets at three photojournalists during protests over police brutality in May 2020.
Corp. Daniel Debono was charged with three counts of aggravated assault for allegedly firing rubber bullets at MLiveNicole Hester and independent journalists Seth Herald and Matthew Hatcher as they crossed the streets of downtown Detroit. Horses suffered injuries to the face, neck, arms and legs; The Herald’s wrist was wounded; and Hatcher had bruises on his face.
Following a preliminary investigation Tuesday, 36th District Judge Roberta Archer dismissed the charges, citing a statute that “grants immunity to any officer where an illegal assembly is declared.”
Wayne County prosecutors are considering an appeal, claiming the statute does not apply because journalists did not protest and the meeting was closed at the time of the assault.
“The evidence shows that these three journalists left the protest area and that there was almost no one else on the street where they were,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement in July 2020. “They were no threat to anyone. There is simply no explanatory reasons why the alleged actions of this officer were taken. ”
Protests erupted in late May after George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police. While covering the protests, Detroit reporters were arrested, assaulted and antagonized by overzealous police. Police also pushed journalists and fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at journalists.
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