A black teenager is being charged with assault for unleashing an ‘unprovoked’ attack on a white Macy’s employee in a store in Flint, Michigan, earlier this month.
Damire Palmer, 18, was seen in a viral video posted on June 15 pummeling the employee on the ground, claiming the unidentified man called him the n-word in the middle of a store in Genesee Town Center.
Police announced Friday they had no evidence to suggest the employee used a racial slur and that Palmer carried out the attack unprovoked.
He is not yet in police custody but officials say he will be charged with one count of felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.
The charge holds a ten-year sentence if convicted.
‘This was an unprovoked attack on a Macy’s employee,’ said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton in a statement.
‘This behavior as seen on the video is unacceptable, it is criminal, and it cannot be allowed.’
‘The is the most egregious felony law in Michigan so I think it’s appropriate,’ he added.
The man who filmed the attack, Palmer’s 22-year-old brother Damarquay Palmer -also known as rapper FT Quay – is not being charged, officials said Friday.
Flint police department named them both as persons of interest on June 20.
According to ABC12, Flint Township Police have been looking for the Palmer brothers in connection to the case since the video was posted but investigators have not yet been able to interview them.
Damarquay shared the video on Facebook and claimed that he and a ‘bro’ went to the mall and asked a man on the phone about a shirt size.
He said the employee answered them and returned to his phone call, where he allegedly told someone on the phone ‘no one just some n****r,’ which resulted in Palmer pouncing on him.
The moment the employee allegedly used the racial slur is not shown in the short clip.
The video continues to show Damire punching the employee in the face, with the unsuspecting man immediately asking, ‘What are you doing that for?’
As the man on the ground extends his arm to keep the angered Damire away, the assailant punches him again and tells him not to touch him.
At this point, the employee tells Damire ‘I didn’t touch you… I’m sorry’ as the teenager punches him a few more times.
Leyton said that Damire is being charged as he is the person seen pummeling the employee in the face during the 18-second-clip.
The prosecutor received the case on Tuesday and decided to move forward with the charge against the 18-year-old, despite not yet having spoken to him, after watching the surveillance footage and reading further witness statements.
‘He’s shook up and he’s emotionally upset, as well as physically upset,’ Leyton said of the employee in the clip.
‘But, he’s emotionally upset to think that, you know, anybody would think he said the alleged vile, racial, provoking slur; because he says he didn’t say it, and his history suggests he didn’t say it.’
He noted that surveillance footage shows that Palmer did address the employee a few minutes before the attack took place.
‘The assailant said to the store manager — “Does this jacket fit?” And the store manager said to him, “No, it’s too small”,’ Leyton explained.
Yet, he added that the person on the phone with the manager at the time was an employee in another state who has said that they did not hear any racial slur being used.
‘This was a cell phone to cell phone call, there is no recording of it. And the out of state witness who we interviewed said that he did not hear any such alleged provocation,’ Leyton said.
‘Even if there were verbal provocation, which we have no evidence of, violent retaliation is not permitted by the law,’ he continued, adding that the Facebook claim was not evidence.
Despite not speaking to investigators, Damarquay Palmer spoke to the New York Post last week and reiterated his claim that the store manager used the n-word.
‘I just want people to know the real story of really what happened and what’s in the description of me and my brother just walking into Macy’s just minding our own business,’ the 22-year-old rapper said.
‘And, yes, we made a petty joke and asked the guy “Was the shirt too little?” when he could’ve asked me. He was just being funny,’ said Quay, who had then declined to identify his brother by name.
‘And just the fact of the remark that he said that we all heard.
‘And just, what else were we supposed to do? In this age and time, he didn’t know what else to do.
‘That was just his instinct.’
Macy’s said in a statement released last week that they supported their employee and believed the attack was unprovoked.
‘We are deeply saddened about the incident that took place on Monday (June 15) at Macy’s Genesee Valley as the safety of Macy’s customers and colleagues is our top priority,’ Andrea Schwartz, senior director of media relations for Macy’s, told MLive-The Flint Journal.
‘Violence in the workplace of any kind is unacceptable. All the materials from the evening have been reviewed and it is clear that the attack was unprovoked.
‘We are working closely with local authorities on this investigation, and will defer any further comments about the case to them per policy.’