My name is Wayne Reid. A few years ago, I embarked on a journey to revisit a controversial, local event that personally affected me. My brother, Franklyn Reid, was shot and killed by a police officer in December 1998, in New Milford, Connecticut. Once again, I felt the depth of sadness from losing a brother at a youthful age and how the shocking tragedy nearly crushed my family. Love, compassion, and courage, inspired us through that difficult period.
While the incident resulted in a landmark case in Connecticut, the contentiousness and emotional charge of these situations is nationwide. Yet my view is: If America’s perspective on these violent occurrences shifted from putting race at the forefront, to judging them strictly by whether actions taken were right versus wrong, couldn’t we come together as a country? I pondered… how can I bridge the gap between law enforcement and community members? I believed that if I shared my story, it could lead towards reducing and eventually eliminating unwarranted police-civilian shootings. To this end, I wrote Death by Cop: A Call for Unity with Connecticut Superior Court Judge Charles Gill, who presided over the trial. I hope others will feel empowered to share similar personal stories.
“My name is Charles Gill. For thirty-five years, I was a Superior Court Judge in Connecticut. I come from a law enforcement family; fairness, objectivity, and justice for all has been my life standard.
In 1999, I volunteered to preside over a landmark case, the State of Connecticut versus Officer Scott Smith, who shot and killed Franklyn Reid in the forty-one seconds they knew each other. It was easily the most difficult trial of my career. On a daily basis, I had to look directly at the faces of the parents of Franklyn Reid and Scott Smith, for hours. There is no antidote or cure for the emotional pain I saw. Both families displayed civility, mutual respect, honor, and love. I believe those are the best American traits.
I met Wayne Reid in 2013. We shared our feelings about the trial. Through our connection, we realized a positive message could rise from a tragic outcome. To this end, I co-authored Death by Cop: A Call for Unity! I hope our portrayal of this story will aid others with similar tragedies and hopefully prevent future reoccurrences of this type of violence.”