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March 13, 2012

Detroit family alleges victim's care slowed by guards

By George Hunter
The Detroit News

DETROIT — The family of a 24-year-old man who was killed Saturday after allegedly arguing with a gas station attendant about the price of condoms has charged hospital security guards with detaining and assaulting the victim's friends as they tried to take him to the emergency room.

Michael Haynes was shot at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday after the cashier at the BP gas station on Fenkell near Meyers refused to allow him to return condoms he'd purchased there, family members said.

After the shooting, friends rushed Haynes to Sinai-Grace Hospital and begged guards to help, according to a spokesman for Haynes' family.

Instead, the guards spent 20 minutes handcuffing and detaining the friends as Haynes lay bleeding in the car, said family spokesman Jonathan Kinloch, who has scheduled a press conference about the allegations at noon today at Hope Presbyterian Church on Meyers

Hospital officials said Haynes was immediately seen after arriving at the emergency room and maintain that the guards acted appropriately.

The allegations are the latest development in a case that has reopened old wounds between Detroit's Arab gas station owners and African-American residents.

Kinloch said problems started when Haynes and the gas station attendant, whose name has not been released, argued over the price of a pack of condoms.

"(Haynes) asked for his money back after he bought the condoms," said Kinloch, a radio talk show host.

"The attendant refused, so (Haynes) knocked over some doughnuts as he was leaving the gas station. Then the attendant came from behind the glass and shot him."

Haynes' friends drove him to Sinai-Grace Hospital, where more violence broke out, Kinloch said.

"His friends drove up to the wrong entrance, and the security guards told him 'You have to go somewhere else,'" Kinloch said.

"(Haynes' friends) jumped out of the car and said, 'Please; he's bleeding. Help us.'"

Kinloch claims the guards handcuffed Haynes' friends and "roughed them up while Michael was in the back seat begging for help for 20 minutes."

Sinai-Grace spokeswoman Tina Taylor said the patient was seen immediately.

"An unidentified patient arrived shortly after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning," Taylor said. "The car was directed to take the patient to our trauma entrance; the trauma team was waiting at the door for the patient, who was seen immediately. The patient arrived with no pulse."

Taylor refuted the claim that hospital officers beat Haynes' friends.

"We did review the situation, and our police officers did act appropriately," she said.

Detroit Police officials haven't released many details about the incident, although they said the cashier is in custody. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is expected to announce a decision on charges today.

Funeral arrangements for Haynes are pending.

"This is so senseless," said Haynes' aunt, Gigi Davis, 50, of West Bloomfield Township. "It's just devastating, to think a life was lost over an argument."

Detroit civil rights activist Ron Scott said he has had preliminary meetings with Arab community leaders to discuss how to ease longstanding tensions between Detroit's African-American residents and Arab-American gas station owners.

"This can be an opportunity to have a discussion," Scott said. "The tension goes both ways — a lot of gas station owners and employees have been killed (by residents).

"This probably wouldn't have happened if the gas station was at Maple and Woodward, so we need to find out why this is happening in Detroit."

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