US & Canada

White couple charged with assault over threats to black family

Ms Wuestenberg pointing the gun Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Jillian Wuestenberg was filmed pointing the gun at the family

A white husband and wife have been charged after the woman pulled a gun on a black mother and her children during a confrontation in a car park.

Footage of the incident in Orion Township, near Detroit, has been viewed millions of times on social media.

It shows Jillian Wuestenberg pointing the cocked gun and shouting: "Get away."

Local Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the confrontation had stemmed from a "bump" at the entrance to a restaurant.

The Wuestenbergs have both been charged with felonious assault. They each had a loaded firearm, the sheriff said. The black family was not armed.

Ms Wuestenberg, 32, is alleged to have bumped into 15-year-old Makayla Green. In the footage, the teenager's mother, Takelia Hill, demands an apology while her daughter films.

Ms Wuestenberg gets into her vehicle, driven by her husband Eric, 42, but the argument escalates and she reappears brandishing a gun and pointing it at the teenager and her mother.

Several people called the police and the couple were arrested, Sheriff Bouchard said.

The sheriff said officers were "presented with two very different stories from two different groups", with both sides claiming they felt "extremely threatened".

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"Let's have a little more tolerance for each other and not being so quick to react," he told a news conference. "If someone is doing something improper or unfair, I tell my family and friends to look away. This is not the moment to plant your flag."

Oakland County chief executive David Coulter said he had been "deeply disturbed" by the incident on 1 July.

"This behaviour is unacceptable. I wholly expect the prosecutor to bring charges that reflect the severity of the incident." he said.

But Oakland County prosecutor Jessica Cooper described it as "an unfortunate set of circumstances that tempers run high over, basically, not much of an incident", AP reported.

What happened during the argument?

What sparked the row is not captured in the video but Makayla Green told the Detroit News she had been bumped into by Ms Wuestenberg.

"Before I could walk into Chipotle, this woman was coming out, and I had moved out the way so she can walk out," she told the Detroit News.

"She bumped me, and I said, 'excuse you'. And then she started cussing me out and saying things like I was invading her personal space."

The teenager then called her mother over because she was scared, she said.

A three-minute YouTube video shows the argument continuing in the car park. Ms Hill is heard arguing with Ms Wuestenberg, who says she feels threatened and that she is being blocked from accessing her car.

Ms Hill is heard swearing at the couple and Ms Wuestenberg is accused of being racist.

At one moment Ms Hill points at Mr Wuestenberg and tells him "you say something I'll beat your white ass too".

From the car, Ms Wuestenberg says: "You cannot just walk around calling white people racist."

"White people aren't racist... I care about you, and I'm sorry if you had an incident that has made someone make you feel like that. No-one is racist," she says.

When the car begins reversing, Ms Hill is behind it and knocks on the back of the car. Ms Wuestenberg then jumps out and shouts "get back" and "back up" along with several expletives. The couple later drive off.

Update 4th July 2020: This article has been updated to reflect the events shown in longer versions of the video

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