• Family of father killed during “legal” kidnapping of two-year-old son won’t let case die
By Keith Johnson
A tragic incident where a father was needlessly killed by police officers, who were trying to take his son to place him in foster care, has received new attention thanks to friends of the family and the man’s mother, who have refused to let the case die.
On February 3, 2012, 32-year-old single father William Reddie was shot dead in his Grayling, Michigan apartment after allegedly pulling a four-inch pocket knife and lunging at a Crawford County Sheriff’s deputy. Why were the police there in the first place? To remove Reddie’s two-year-old son because an anonymous source accused Reddie of smoking marijuana that day.
Although an investigation by a prosecutor in a neighboring Mich. county found the officer’s use of deadly force justifiable, a review of the circumstances leading up to the shooting, as well as interviews with friends and family members of Reddie, indicated that officers missed several opportunities to contain the situation before it escalated and quite possibly provoked Reddie into responding the way he allegedly did.
The local Petoskey News reported:
“Lead [Michigan State Police] investigator Detective Sgt. Rick Sekely said events leading up to the shooting and attempts to remove the son from the residence began earlier in the day when officers went to Reddie’s apartment in response to a possible domestic disturbance. Upon arriving at the scene and making contact with Reddie, officers indicated Reddie was on the phone in what seemed to be a heated argument with a woman. Reports indicate Reddie appeared agitated, and when officers stated they could smell the odor of marijuana in the apartment, Sekely said Reddie admitted to having smoked marijuana that morning.
This AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter recently spoke with Janet Ledger, a local businesswoman and longtime friend of Reddie and his family. When asked to respond to the account provided by police, Ms. Ledger replied: “Will[iam] was getting harassing phone calls from his [ex-girlfriend, the child’s mother] all day long. She was demanding to see [her son] before their court appearance, which was just a few days away. Who wouldn’t be agitated? She wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Ms. Ledger added that Reddie was seeking permanent custody of his son and that the child’s mother was not entitled to a visit prior to their custody hearing on February 6, 2012.
This AFP reporter also spoke with Reddie’s mother, Michelle Van Buren, who said that she had been in phone contact with her son throughout the ordeal.
“Will[iam] was under a lot of pressure because of the phone calls and the way the police were acting,” said Mrs. Van Buren. “He told me the police wouldn’t leave unless he admitted to smoking pot. They said they could smell it in his apartment. Well, if they did smell it, it didn’t come from his apartment. Will[iam] was not smoking pot.”
Mrs. Van Buren’s claim is backed up by facts. A post-mortem toxicology report indicates that no traces of alcohol, marijuana or any other illegal drugs were found in Reddie’s bloodstream. It should be noted that THC—the active ingredient in marijuana—remains in the bloodstream from 13 to 90 days, which suggests that Reddie had not been using marijuana.
Based on the allegation of marijuana use, Child Protective Services obtained an emergency court order and returned that same day with a police officer and sheriff deputy to take the child. That’s when things spiraled out of control and Reddie was shot dead in the presence of his young son.
“They didn’t have to kill him,” said Ms. Ledger. “They say they were there to protect the son, but then they shoot his father? You can’t tell me that boy hasn’t been traumatized, and he will suffer for years to come.”
The tragedy didn’t end with Reddie’s death. Immediately after the shooting, Reddie’s son was placed into foster care despite having relatives who were perfectly capable of caring for the child. According to Mrs. Van Buren: “I was a school bus driver for 15 years. My husband is a Vietnam vet and an active and respected member of the community. There’s no reason why [name withheld] shouldn’t be with us.”
Mrs. Van Buren said she has only recently been allowed to take the boy home for brief visits. Prior to that, all visits were supervised at a cost of $110.40 each. She is currently working with the courts in hopes of being granted permanent custody. In the meantime, Mrs. Van Buren says that her grandson lives in a foster home with eight other children. Foster families receive money from the government for every child under their care—a huge scam.
“When we first brought him home we showed him his room and he said, ‘You mean this is all mine?’ ” Mrs. Van Buren said. “He wants to be with us. He hates the idea of going back, and he cries all the way there.”