Mayor Bing: City Investigating Fire Official's Smackdown of Fox2 Reporter
Public relations messes seem to come all too easily for city hall these day.
On Wednesday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing found himself dealing with one that involved the deputy fire commissioner, who slapped a microphone out of the hand of Fox2 reporter Charlie LeDuff (pictured to the right).
“My administration is taking this matter very seriously,” Bing said in a statement, adding: “We are investigating the incident and we will make a decision based on our findings.”
The incident happened Tuesday while LeDuff was working on a story about the fire department’s poor equipment and filthy conditions at firehouses, some of which had leaking raw sewage. The report came on the day the city broke ground for a $60 million police and fire public safety building.
As the camera rolled, LeDuff called out to Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler, who was going to his red mini van parked downtown.
“Deputy Commissioner,” LeDuff said, to which Wheeler responded: “You better get the fuck away.”
Then as LeDuff stood before the deputy commissioner, he said: “Sir, you’re in charge of the maintenance of these fire houses. We’re spending $60 million on a new public safety headquarters and the houses we visited should be condemned. How do you respond?
Wheeler responded by slapping LeDuff’s microphone out of his hand as he said: “Well, you’re responsible for telling the truth. Why don’t you tell the truth?”
Interestingly, the city declined to comment Wednesday on the actual substance of the report about filthy conditions at firehouses and poor equipment.
On Wednesday, LeDuff told Deadline Detroit: “I thank the mayor for the attention in this matter and I’ll keep on top of not only the incident, but the conditions of the fire department.”
Wheeler could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.