Detroit man sentenced in attack on reporters, news vehicles
A Detroit man who struck local reporters’ vehicles with a metal baton was sentenced on Sept. 16, 2019, to two years of probation and fined $1,819, according to court records reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
The man, Edmund Lionel Gilliam, approached a WWJ-AM news vehicle on Aug. 2, 2018, while radio reporter Mike Campbell was inside covering the scene of an earlier fatal car crash. Gilliam yelled obscenities and racial insults and hit Campbell’s car multiple times with the baton. Campbell was not injured in the attack.
Gilliam was later arrested and charged with three counts of assault; one count of assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer; and four counts of malicious destruction of personal property. He pleaded no contest to the obstruction charge and to one count each of assault and property destruction, though it was not clear whether those charges were tied to aggressions against a particular journalist. The remaining charges were dismissed.
On Aug. 2, 2018, reporter Mike Campbell of Detroit radio station WWJ-AM was reporting from the scene of a fatal car crash when he was attacked by a man wielding a metal baton-like object.
Campbell told WWJ that he was sitting inside his parked car, delivering a report on the crash live on air, when an unknown man carrying a metal baton approached the car and began yelling obscenities and racial insults.
"I had put the windows up because I had started my report and I saw the man, but he seemed to be just walking by in front of the truck," Campbell later told WWJ. "He was saying stuff but I put the windows up because I didn't want our listeners to hear his foul words and then he apparently, just, something angered him, he turned around and attacked the news truck."
While Campbell was in the middle of his live report, the man struck his car's windshield, hood and driver-side window.
"My truck just got hit with a bat, I'm sorry guys, I've got to go," Campbell told WWJ listeners before abruptly ending the live report.
After the man stopped smashing Campbell's car, Campbell got out of his car.
Video recorded by Nia Harden, a reporter at local TV station WXYZ, shows Campbell holding up his phone to try to photograph the man. After taking some photos, Campbell got back into his car and drove away from the man.
The man then ran toward Harden, who was sitting in a WXYZ news truck, and began smashing the truck's windshield.
Police later arrived on the scene and arrested the man.