William Reddie, a 32-year-old single father from Michigan, was shot and killed as local Child Protective Services (CPS) officials and police officers attempted to remove his 3-year-old son from the home.
An anonymous tipster claiming that Reddie had marijuana in the home set off a string of incidents which turned a happy toddler into an orphan – and led a local newspaper to conduct its own investigation and issue its own report.
A police officer who followed up on the tip stated he smelled marijuana at William Reddie’s home. Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor, unless law enforcement officers find large amounts or an intent to sell. Michigan Child Protective Services staffers did not have any indication of any type of child abuse or neglect inside the home and felt the drug possession was justification enough to remove the toddler.
Reddie’s action when Michigan police officers attempted to remove the child surely played a role in his death, but the entire incident could have been avoided if CPS and the investigators had not overreacted to possible marijuana smoking, Reddie’s family and friends say.
City of Grayling police officer Alan Somero went to Reddie’s home for an alleged domestic disturbance earlier the day of the shooting, but did not make any arrests. Reddie allegedly became “agitated” when accused of smoking pot in front of his son. He was reportedly on the phone in a heated conversation with a woman when the police and CPS workers arrived. The man fighting for custody of his child understandably did not agree with what was being done.
The social services workers asked for a police escort during the removal.
An excerpt from the court order allowing the removal of the child reads:
“There are reasonable grounds for this court to remove the child(ren) from the parent… because conditions or surroundings of the child(ren), and is contrary to the welfare of the child(ren) to remain in the home because: It is alleged that the father used marijuana in the home in the presence of the child. In addition, there is concern for the safety of the child due to a domestic disturbance and threats made toward law enforcement by the father.”
When the Michigan Child Protective Services workers and law enforcement officers tried to remove the child, Reddie reportedly displayed his 4-inch pocketknife and lunged at the group. The officers had been holding their Taser guns during the altercation, but ultimately holstered their non-lethal weapons and grabbed their firearms. Crawford County Deputy John Klepadlo shot and killed Reddie during the incident.
Crawford County Sheriff Kirk Wakefield called for a Michigan State Police investigation into the use of deadly force by the deputy. Despite a state police investigator’s desire to charge Deputy Klepado, the prosecuting attorney decided that the shooting was justified, according to Reason Magazine.
County prosecutor Mark Jernigan had this to say about the use of deadly force ruling:
“The deceased was in possession of an edged weapon. The deceased pulled a knife and hid it behind his back. At the point where he pulls his hand forward and lunges at the officer, he is in such close proximity, and presents a clear danger of deadly force, the officer is left with no option other than to use deadly force to protect himself, the other officer and the three civilians that were present. The use of deadly force is completely justified and therefore, the homicide was justified.”
But friends and family say CPS and state official should not have been at the home in the first place: Toxicology reports found no alcohol or marijuana in his system.
“Where was protect and serve?” his mom, Michelle VanBuren said to a local newspaper. “The officers always have to stick together and for them to do this is just totally uncalled for. …They took the only thing he ever loved.”