Man charged in Flint Twp. attack on Macy's employee

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Flint — An 18-year-old Mount Morris Township man has been charged and is being sought in the assault of a manager at the Macy’s department store in the Genesee Valley Center.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton announced Damire Canell Palmer is charged in a not-in-custody warrant with intent to do great bodily harm, a 10-year felony, in the attack on the 50-year-old manager who was working in the men’s clothing section around 5:30 p.m. on June 15.

In a Twitter video, a Black man punches a white man several times. The caption with the social post read: "A man at a store in Flint allegedly referred to a Black man in the store as a 'n------' while talking on the phone. The Black man overheard him, then things went left."

In surveillance video obtained from Macy’s by Flint Township Police, Palmer is allegedly seen walking around the store. He then approaches and sucker-punches the manager in the head from behind, knocking him to the floor, according to authorities.

The video allegedly shows Palmer continuing to strike the manager while the employee is on the floor. Palmer then exits the store with another man.

Leyton indicated that despite public comments on social media, the police investigation did not uncover any evidence of provocation by the store manager.

“This was an unprovoked attack on a Macy’s employee,” Leyton said Friday. “This behavior, as seen on the video, is unacceptable, it is criminal and it cannot be allowed.

“We don’t believe any racial slur was made by the store manager, and even if there had been, it does not condone nor justify the assault by Mr. Palmer,” he said.

Damire Canell Palmer

Leyton said certain social media accounts and other reports stating that a phone conversation had been recorded between the store manager and another Macy’s employee prior to the incident were “a false narrative.” The call was on private cell phones and not recorded. He also said there is no audio on the Macy’s store surveillance video, contrary to what some had indicated.

Leyton also said he and his senior staff reviewed the case for possibly charging Palmer with a hate crime, called ethnic intimidation by statute, but he said there is insufficient probable cause evidence that would support it.

The store manager is white and the suspect is African American.

“I know a lot of people are calling this a hate crime but, under the laws of Michigan, the evidence simply does not support that charge,” he said.

Police are still searching for Palmer. Once arrested, he will be arraigned on the felony charge in 67th District Court.

The attack went viral on the Internet, including drawing remarks on Twitter by President Donald Trump.

Video of the incident shows one man punch a Macy’s employee from behind in the aisle of the clothing store and the victim crawling away, asking, “Why did you do that?” The man pursues him and punches him several more times in the face as the victim repeatedly cries out, “I’m sorry.”

The video was posted online with an explanation that the employee ignored a question by the man regarding the size of a shirt and then enraged the shopper, who allegedly overheard the employee say the n-word, possibly over his phone.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted about the incident, suggested the employee was attacked because of his race and asked, “Where are the protesters?”

“This is a horrific hate crime and if the races were reversed it would be the only thing we talk about for days,” Trump said Monday after retweeting a video of the incident.

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