Detroit liquor store owner in court Friday after allegedly assaulting panhandler

The owner of a Detroit liquor store on the city's west side will appear in court Friday after he allegedly assaulted a woman while he was trying to remove her from his store.

Video caught the aftermath of the scene, which showed a woman on the ground, with blood dripping from her face.

But Bassam Yatooma said he was acting in self-defense because the woman spit on him and he is paranoid about germs due to deaths in his family following the pandemic.

Yatooma, 50, of West Bloomfield, was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, and one count of aggravated assault. 

A release from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Andera Warren had entered the convenience store in the 15000 block of Puritan Street to purchase a drink. Yatooma did not want her in the store and allegedly walked over to Warren, grabbed her, dragged her across the floor of the store, punched her in the face, and strangled her. 

"The facts in this case are very unsettling. The alleged actions taken by this defendant are really beyond comprehension when the totality of the circumstances are examined," said Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

A witness said Warren's right eye was visibly red and swollen. Medics that responded to the scene saw the victim bleeding from her nose. She was later hospitalized and diagnosed with a fractured nose. 

"He came out here, grabbed her by the collar, dragged her around the store, and started beating on her like she was a man," said Malvetta Gibson, Warren's aunt. 

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The aftermath of the scene, which occurred in mid-March sparked outrage on social media and calls to boycott the store. Protests were also organized against Yatooma, who kept his store closed in the following days. According to the city of Detroit, the liquor store does not have a certificate of compliance or a cigarette license. The building and safety department will be issuing tickets for those violations. 

Yatooma also had supporters back him in the days that followed. Some accused the outrage to that of a knee-jerk reaction to any viral video.

Others disputed claims of racism.

Yatooma faces up to 10 years in prison. He'll be in court after 10 a.m. Friday.