Attorneys for both sides of a controversial gun incident in Orion Township are speaking out, expressing opposite views of what happened outside of Chipotle Mexican Grill in Orion Township.
Dean Greenblatt is a Bloomfield Hills attorney representing Eric and Jillian Wuestenberg. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper has charged both Wuestenbergs with felonious assault after Jillian Wuestenberg pointed a handgun at Takelia Hill and her family outside the restaurant July 1. Eric Wuestenberg emerged from the couple’s van with a handgun but did not point it at the Hill family.
Christopher Quinn II is a Detroit attorney who represents the Hill family, whose members are not charged with any crime but hired an attorney to represent them in the many media requests after one of Hill’s daughters recorded cell phone video that went viral. The video shows Takelia Hill demanding an apology from Jillian Wuestenberg after she allegedly bumped Hill’s teenage daughter outside the restaurant, 4921 S. Baldwin Road, near Brown Road.
The video shows both parties in a heated exchange, accusing each other of racism. The Wuestenbergs are white; Hill and her family are Black, The video records Takelia Hill threatening to beat Eric Wuestenberg’s “white ass.”
In the video, Jillian Wuestenberg produces a gun and orders the Hill family to stay away from her.
Greenblatt says the video shows several members of the Hill family banging on the side of the Wuestenbergs’ van as they tried to leave the restaurant parking lot.
He said the Wuestenbergs’ vehicle had a safety feature that prevented it from continuing to back up after a sensor picked up the presence of someone or something near the vehicle.
Greenblatt said the Wuestenbergs didn’t know if the Hill family was using hands or something stronger like baseball bats to bang on the side of the van.
“It’s not like they’re in an armored vehicle,” he said.
Jillian Wuestenberg got out of the vehicle to investigate what was occurring.
Greenblatt says the video shows Jillian Wuestenberg “getting rushed” by the Hill family. That’s when she produced the gun.
Greenblatt said the motion of the camera demonstrates they were coming closer to her and continuing to threaten to beat her as she pointed the gun at them.
“You can hear it and you can see it,” Greenblatt said. “If people carefully watch the entire video, they would most likely come to a different conclusion” about who should have been charged, he said.
“She was cornered,” he said.
Hill told police the Wuestenbergs’ vehicle backed into her, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a news conference July 2.
Greenblatt said the law allows an individual to produce a firearm to repel an imminent threat of physical harm.
“Do I think that politics played a role in the decision to charge my clients and not Takelia Hill? Absolutely,” he said.
He said media accounts that showed just a few seconds of the video and reported only that a white woman pointed a gun at an unarmed Black family were unfair and misleading.
The Wuestenbergs both held concealed pistol licenses and legally owned and carried their handguns, Bouchard said at the news conference.
While Greenblatt says the video tells the story, Quinn says the video fails to tell the whole story.
Before recording started, he said, Jillian Wuestenberg engaged in a “verbal dispute with a teenager, a child” over the alleged bumping.
He said Takelia Hill “was concerned about her child” because of Jillian Wuestenberg’s confrontation.
He acknowledged that Takelia Hill slapped the Wuestenbergs’ van, but that did not represent the threat that the Wuestenbergs allege.
“I think Ms. Hill loses on that one,” he said. “You’re going to use lethal force because someone smacked the back of your car?. Then they jump out of the car like Bonnie and Clyde.
“They (the Wuestenbergs) had the advantage the whole time,” he said, as they were armed and the Hill family was not.
“There was a perceived threat,” he said. “Obviously, race is a component. What made her feel entitled or justified to do what she did?”
He does not think his clients should be charged.
“What crime did they commit?” he said.
He said the Hill family, of Pontiac, is seeking therapy.
“They’re just trying to get back some sense of normalcy,” he said.
The Wuestenbergs, of Independence Township, are the parents of four children.
Oakland University fired Eric Wuestenberg, 42, on July 2 from his position as a coordinator in a department that assists students who are veterans. Eric Wuestenberg is a 100% disabled veteran who served 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, Greenblatt said.
Hallmark card company fired Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, from her job as a trainer on Thursday, July 9, Greenblatt said.
The Wuestenbergs were arraigned July 2 on one count each of felonious assault, a four-year felony, before Magistrate Marie Soma of the 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills. Both were given a $50,000 personal bond.
Their bond required them to turn over all firearms, not engage in any assaultive behavior and not leave the state.
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