Detroit camera crusader's video helps turn around woman's life

10 months after video, woman says her life looks much different

DETROIT – Every painful moment of a confrontation between a camera crusader and a Detroit woman was caught on video 10 months ago, but now, the woman says her life looks much different thanks to the video.

Jonathan Pommerville is the camera crusader of Detroit's run-down Brightmoor neighborhood.

Week after week, he's out with his camera chasing out illegal dumpers, johns, prostitutes and drug addicts. His persistence and his video are doing a lot more than cleaning up the streets.

Ten months ago, Pommerville watched two women take a baby into a vacant house that had just been boarded up by a volunteer youth group fighting blight in Brightmoor.

"Taking a baby into the house?" Pommerville asks in the video. "I sure hope not. Going to do drugs in there too?"

"No no no, you're going to have to find another place to do whatever you're doing young lady," Pommerville tells the woman a few moments later.

Like all his raw, unfiltered videos, Pommerville posted the exchange online. His goal is to shame people into going somewhere else, anywhere else.

"No surprise who I am," Pommerville said. "I am the video vigilante of my neighborhood. I do not like people hustling booty here at eight in the morning."

No one is happy to see him or his camera.

"Are you filming me right now?" the woman asks in the video.

"I film everybody," Pommerville says.

"Today, I decided after seeing a child go in there with their mother, that this is not the place for an open shop anymore," he says.

Ten months later, this comment was posted to that video:

"Hi. I am the blonde female in the video. The first time I saw this I was pretty mad, but since this video, I have gotten help and entered rehab shortly after. I would like to say thank you, as twisted as that sounds, because this video is forever a reminder of the life I never want to go back to."

"Who knew my video would actually lead to her getting help from someone," Pommerville said.

The woman in the video is Lauren Hardin. She is out of rehab and is living in Utah, far from Brightmoor.

"Shortly after you posted it, someone in Brightmoor said, 'Look, Lauren's on Youtube," Hardin said. "And I was like, 'What are you talking about?' I watched it and was like, 'What the hell?'"

Hardin is a 23-year-old from South Lyon.

"I sniffed a pack of heroin and, just feeling like this is the drug for me," Hardin said.

She said heroin led to crack and both led to a man's car.

"I was from a small town," Hardin said. "I didn't know what was going on. He starts talking and, 'Oh my God, I'm going on my first date.'"

She was meeting men for sex up and down Telegraph Road -- money for her addiction.

Hardin said at 8 a.m. she had just shot up when she came into focus on Pommerville's camera. She was looking for a place to sleep.

"I stay here. That's the cleanest place I found. It's where the couches are at," she said.

Doug Woodcock owns a construction company in Brighton and watches Pommerville's videos on Facebook. One of his addicted former employees showed up one night, high on crack. He had a girl in his car.

It was Hardin.

"She was dirty," Woodcock said. "You could tell she hadn't slept in a long time."

The man dumped Hardin at Woodcock's house. He knew her from the video and he said both he and Hardin knew drastic action had to be taken.

"I'm going to lock you in my house," Woodcock said. "I'm going to detox you."

Why was Hardin ready to take that step? She said her best friend, who was in Pommerville's video with her baby, overdosed in her motel room.

Losing her friend led Hardin to meeting Woodcock, which led to rehab.

"I watch (the video as) a reminder where I don't want to be," Hardin said.

"My video did not save her, let's not get that mixed up," Pommerville said. "She saved herself. It was just the hard look through my video that she made that change."

Hardin said getting clean hasn't been easy. She is trying to mend family relationships. Her daughter is living with an aunt in Birmingham, but she is turning her life around. She is engaged and has a baby on the way.


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.