DETROIT (FOX 2) - The driver in an accident that led to the beating death of a young Berkley man had no driver's license and should have never been behind the wheel.
Lawrence Davis' long driving record shows he has several suspensions - and does not even have a valid driver’s license. The Chevy Impala he'd been driving was not registered to him.
Detroit police say Davis, in his Impala, and Wingate, in a Buick Regal, got into a car accident outside the gas station at 2 a.m. Monday. Surveillance video shows Davis walking up to Wingate and punching him in the face with several witnesses standing by. Wingate, fell to the ground.
A lot of the video is too graphic to show. Wingate is seen, at one moment - trying to get up, but the punches and kicks continue. A witness eventually pulled Davis away from Wingate then he, along with three others, took off and ditched the Impala. But Detroit police say it was too late as Wingate died on the ground.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office says Tuesday that Wingate's death has been ruled a homicide. The 24-year-old young man - whose friends describe as loving and generous - suffered blunt force trauma to his head and neck.
Davis' family is too scared to go on camera and told FOX 2 the 23-year-old has had a rough life. They say his mother died of cancer when he was only 14, and Davis essentially raised himself. His family also says - although he punched Wingate - likely out of rage - he did not mean to kill him. They say - that's just not him.
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When customers of the gas station on Davison and Livernois rewatch the violent video of Wingate being beaten they cringe knowing the suspect who did it, is still out there.
"If it's a car accident, how can you get so upset to the point where you beat a guy to death?" said Morrisha Turner.
"You can't even get into a fender bender with (people) anymore," said Debra Wimberly. "Now you have to stay in your car and wait for the police to show up before you get out now."
Turner said she doesn't buy the excuse of Davis' rough upbringing.
"That's no excuse," Turner said. "So what you had a rough life. Everybody has a rough life. That doesn't mean you do that to somebody."
"You beat someone to death so that would be the right thing to do - just turn yourself in," Wimberly said.
"It doesn't make any sense. They're out here killing each other for nothing," said Tracie Jay, a gas station customer. "Stupid (expletive). It's terrible. I'm just glad they know who he is so they can get him off the street."