‘I can’t breathe’—Young man died March 30 during Detroit police stop
Autopsy report, police statement to father, say Clark Reed died from asthma attack, contradicting other police statements alleging he ingested drugs
Detroit officer Brian Gadwell, at scene according to his website comments, made those allegations, has record of previous brutality lawsuits
Grieving family still has not received police reports, dashcam and store videotapes, son’s possessions
By Diane Bukowski
June 11, 2015
DETROIT – “He wasn’t just my son, he was my best friend,” Leda Reed, the grieving mother of Anthony Clark Reed, said. “He had a smile on every day, and was always doing something silly. He was my first-born. He never cried even when he was a baby. He worked in Wixom for four years, went to Henry Ford College, and had just been hired at Chrysler.”
Reed said her son, who was 6 feet, two inches and often drove his girlfriend’s new red Charger, was frequently stopped by police.
“He would always call me or his girlfriend on his cellphone right away and leave it on so we could hear what was happening, and he would always call me by 9 p.m. to let me know he was home.”
On the night of March 30 of this year, however, Reed received no such calls. After an unwarranted delay, she and Pastor Kevin Clark, the young man’s father, were told that their son was dead, after a Detroit police stop outside a store on W. Vernor and Lawndale, just around the corner from his father’s Springwells Avenue Baptist Church.
“They said they put [my son’s] hands behind his back [to handcuff him], which would have restricted the air flowing into his lungs, causing an asthma attack,” Reed said. “They didn’t have a reason to pull him over, they stereotyped him.”
Pastor Clark said, “I’m not claiming they did anything unless the videotapes show differently, but what occurred says they did not attend to his request that he could not breathe. Why were they so neglectful?”
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report says Clark Reed died of “natural causes,” an asthma attack.
But during his funeral, one of Clark Reed’s twin sisters left crying, “They killed him.”
Both parents said police and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office continue to tell them the case is still “under investigation.”
“Why is this still going on, 45 days after his death?” Pastor Clark asked.
Police have given the parents conflicting stories about the reason their son was stopped. They have not given the family or their attorney written police reports, dashcam videos from at least six cars witnesses saw at the scene, and videos confiscated from cameras on nearby buildings. Witnesses said all the Charger’s doors and trunk were open after the stop. Their son’s possessions, including two cell phones and cash, have also not been returned.
Pastor Clark said a police lieutenant told him that his son was pulled over because he was reaching under his seat. His father he was likely looking for his inhaler if that was the case. Police have told various media outlets that Clark Reed was stopped because he had tinted windows, and that he had an asthma attack after the stop. They said they went inside the car to get his inhaler, then called EMS, but those efforts failed to revive him.
Detroit police officer Brian Gadwell reported a third version in comments on WXYZ TV’s website after Pastor Clark was interviewed by that station.
“He was pulled over and started eating his dope he had in the car ……. No one’s fault but his,” Gadwell said on the site. In response to another commenter critical of that remark, Gadwell said, “Where u there at the scene nope that’s right or I would of seen u, but go ahead and try blaming the police for some one else’s stupidity.”
That comment, said Clark Reed’s mother, obviously implies Gadwell was present during her son’s death.
WXYZ has since changed the name of the commenter to John E BGood, whose Facebook page displays a photo of Good. It is identical to a photo of Gadwell published in a 2012 news report by Amy Lange on Channel 2. That report identified Gadwell as a Detroit police officer who had “thwarted a fence theft” in his Delray neighborhood while off-duty. See
Henry Sawicki commented on the John E Bgood Facebook page, “Damn john e bgood u look just like John E Bgood lol,” and “Lol just like brian gadwell I mean lol.”
Clark Reed’s aunt Yolanda Delgado preserved the original comments with Gadwell’s name on her Facebook page.
On that page, and on the WXYZ website, she said, “Officer Brian Gadwell is making false, unfounded allegations about a pending investigation into the death of Anthony Clark-Reed. He is inciting racial bias and prejudice and his comments are insensitive and unnecessary. Apparently he is attempting to create an alibi for the senseless death of this young man. He does not honor the badge or uniform of the US Law enforcement bureau and he needs to be removed from service. Our country will never mend their racial divide wounds as long as people like him serve in office.”
Numerous other commenters also castigated Gadwell’s comments. None supported him.
Barbara Reed Bolden said, “The last thing Detroit needs is Bad Cops PROFILING Men/Women shaking them down for their valuables and using a gun and badge to do so. This family lost a love[d] on. You are on Social Media Boasting about a case you personally had something to do with. You show no sensitivity nor respect, for this alone that badge and gun should be removed from you. Who are you serving and protecting?”
Click on Gadwell comments Yolanda Delgado for full list of comments.
Along with the medical examiner’s autopsy report, VOD obtained the ME’s “Case Registration Summary.”
It says “ER Dr. called to report the death of a 25yr male, who was stopped by police while driving swallowed a unknown substance and collapsed. Conveyed from Lawndale and Vernor in Detroit by EMS arriving asystole with no signs of trauma or foul play. Package of drugs found on person.”
The summary adds, “No labs, no film, hx (history) unknown.”
“It is my opinion that the cause of death is asthma,” Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Chantel Nijawi reported May 4. “The contributory factor is morbid obesity. Mr. Clark-Reed complained of feeling short of breath during a traffic stop. An inhaler which Mr. Clark-Reed instructed the police to remove from his car was administered multiple times; however the inhaler failed to work. An emergency medical unit was immediately called and police began cardiopulmonary resuscitative efforts. Upon arrival of the emergency medical unit to the scene, cardiopulmonary resuscitative efforts were continued and he was conveyed to the hospital where despite continued medical intervention he died. There were no signs of injury and no evidence of foul play.”
A good portion of Nijawi’s remarks are taken at face value from what he was told by police, a not uncommon occurrence at the medical examiner’s office.
But Nijawi reported further, “The stomach is devoid of gastric contents.”
In other words, he found no evidence in the young man’s stomach that he had ingested anything, let alone drugs, as Gadwell alleged online.
The toxicology findings in the report do indicate the presence of 1.9 nannograms per millimeter (ng/ml) of Delta-9 THC, and under 5.0 ng/ml of Delta-9 Carboxy THC, components of marijuana, in Clark-Reed’s blood.
A scientific report by the California chapter of NORML says, “. . . high levels of THC may be correlated with impairment, though low levels less than 3-5 ng/ml are not.” In other words, the tests showed only low levels present in Clark-Reed’s blood.
Several lawsuits at the state and federal levels have been filed against Gadwell, although he was given a “Top Cop” award by the National Association of Police Officers in 2005.
Two were filed by Jerry Ashley, who said in a sworn deposition that he grew up with Gadwell, who lived in the Delray area. He said Gadwell belonged to a gang called the Delray Mafia, while he himself belonged to a competing gang called the Counts. He said his brother “stole” Gadwell’s girlfriend Melissa, which caused subsequent animosity from Gadwell toward the Ashleys.
Later, Gadwell joined the Detroit Police Department, working variously on the gang squad and in special operations.
In 2007, according to a lawsuit filed by attorney Daniel G. Romano, Gadwell arrested Ashley, handcuffed him, then kicked him in the face, breaking the orbital bone around his eye and scarring his face. The lawsuit was later settled for $50,000, according to a City Council agenda for June 16, 2010.
Two other Detroit officers pulled Ashley over on April 9, 2010, telling him that Gadwell “wanted to see him.” Romano said in the lawsuit that the officers falsely arrested Ashley for non-existent child support warrants, then took him to the Second Precinct on Grand River and Schaefer, where one placed a “baton-like object” between Ashley’s arms while he was handcuffed, then twisted it, fracturing his elbow.
Ashley said that Gadwell later told him he heard he “got arrested and got f-cked up again.” The case evaluation in that lawsuit recommended payment of another $50,000.
In another lawsuit, Javier Pointer vs. Gadwell, adjudicated in both state and federal courts, attorney Romano alleged that Gadwell trespassed into Pointer’s yard without a warrant, and told him to stop selling drugs, which Pointer denied doing.
Romano said Gadwell “showed him his badge and punched him in his face, plaintiff fell to ground and defendant kicked him. . . .The defendant fractured plaintiff’s nose, jaw, and wrist, and he humiliated him . . . . as the plaintiff lay on the ground, the defendant continued to beat him.”
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland remanded state-appropriate claims to Wayne County Circuit Court. On the federal civil rights violations claims, he found Gadwell not responsible because he was not “operating under color of law,” although he did not deny that Gadwell had beaten Pointer. He ignored the lawsuit’s contention that Gadwell showed Pointer his police badge.
The Detroit City Council later authorized legal representation for Gadwell on the state claims. An unknown settlement was reached in December, 2011.
Luis and Paricia Perales sued Gadwell, U.S. Homeland Security Officer Antonio Galvan, and two other individuals who were the target of a high-speed chase after they allegedly shot into a crowd during Cinco de Mayo festivities on May 6, 2012.
The lawsuit, again filed by Daniel Romano, alleged that Gadwell and Galvan negligently engaged in a “high-speed chase through the crowded streets of Southwest Detroit during the Cinco de Mayor Parade . . . continued the chase the wrong way down the one-way Morell Street, and hit or otherwise physically forced the vehicle operated by Defendants Gonzales and Garcia into Plaintiff Luis Pareles, thereby striking him violently and with great force.”
The lawsuit said Perales suffered “serious injuries to his face/head, brain, neck and other parts of his body . . .” that would likely cause lifelong impairment.
That case was administratively closed due to the Detroit bankruptcy filing, and later re-filed in 2014, with an unknown outcome.