Wayne’s Words: Journey

Authoring a book about a dramatic event that touched many lives is an emotional process. My brother, Franklyn Reid, killed by a police officer in December 1998, resulted in a landmark case in Connecticut. Love, compassion, and courage inspired my family through that difficult period.

Months after a heartbreaking tragedy in 2013, I embarked on a journey to revisit that controversial, local event. It was time to draft a manuscript.

Through a mutual friend, I connected with Connecticut Superior Court Judge Charles Gill who presided over the case. I visited his home and for three hours, we shared our feelings about the trial. He said both families displayed civility, mutual respect, honor, and love. I informed him about my intentions and his next words were, “I can help you with that.”

I reconstructed the trial’s period from first-hand account and research materials. The grief of re-opening old wounds became unbearable as I did not have a complete understanding on how the incident occurred. For example, confusion gripped the local police department and Connecticut State Police were unclear what led to the shooting of Mr. Reid. The tearful moment my parents saw their first- born in the hospital laying peacefully in a permanent sleep was painful to write. I revisited events prior to my brother’s death, as far back as 1987, and thought perhaps fate set up Franklyn and Officer Smith to have a catastrophic contact. The paths of two young men and their families were destined for connection.

From 2014 through 2018, the United States experienced an increase in police-civilian shootings. People protested and new movements developed. I saw similar patterns. I believed that if I shared my story, it could continue discussions, aid others with similar tragedies and hopefully prevent future reoccurrences of this type of violence.

This will be a challenging journey, but we are continuing along the path that great leaders and icons has paved. Together, we can shift from hate to caring about each other.