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Detroit Officer Charged in Rubber Pellet Shooting of Three Photojournalists Prosecutor

Kym Worthy has charged Detroit Police Corporal Daniel Debono, 32, in connection with shooting three photojournalists with non-fatal ammunition.

On May 30, 2020, into the early morning hours of May 31, 2020, there was a protest in downtown Detroit in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. Defendant Debono was sent with other officers to the demonstration. He was dressed in riot gear and armed with a weapon that fired rubber pellets, as well as his department issued firearm.

After 12:00 a.m. on May 31st , the majority of the protesters had dispersed. Photojournalist Nicole Hester, 30, of MLive, and independent photojournalists Seth Herald, 28, and Matthew Hatcher, 29, were covering the protest, wearing press credentials. The three were walking when they encountered Defendant Debono with two other officers at Woodward Avenue and State Street. They identified themselves as members of the press and had their hands up, asking to cross the street.

As the three began to cross the street it is alleged that Defendant Debono fired his weapon at the them, striking all of three with rubber pellets. The shooting was unprovoked. At no time did the three complainants do anything to cause the defendant to shoot at them.

As a result of the shots, Mr. Herald's wrist was injured, and Mr. Hatcher had bruising on his face, a mark on his nose, and bruising on his ribs. Ms. Hester sustained the most injuries to her face, neck, arms, and legs.

Defendant Debono has been charged with three counts of Felonious Assault, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of four years.* There is one count for each victim.

"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 to no one. There are simply no explicable reasons why the alleged actions of this officer were taken," said Prosecutor Worthy.

Defendant Debono was arraigned this morning in 36th District Court. The Probable Cause Conference is scheduled for August 13, 2020 before Judge Archer in 36th District Court. The defendant received a $10,000 personal bond. Please contact the Detroit Police Department for a photograph of the defendant.

*The charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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