Asthmatic man, 24, dies during traffic stop in Detroit
Detroit — A father is grappling for answers after his 24-year-old asthmatic son died Monday during a police traffic stop.
Anthony Clark died after Detroit police pulled him over Monday night near Vernor and Lawndale on the city’s southwest side, reportedly because he was driving erratically and had tinted windows on his late-model Dodge Charger in violation of state law.
That’s the only information the motorist’s father, Pastor Kevin Clark of Springwells Avenue Baptist Church, said police have given him.
“I got to the hospital Monday night, and there was nobody there from the Detroit police to tell me what happened,” Clark said. “I had to wait until the next morning to get any information. It’s ridiculous.”
Detroit police spokeswoman June West said in a written statement that officials are doing what they can to keep the family informed during the investigation.
“Understandably, the father is very upset; he’s just lost his son,” West said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to talk with him at the hospital Monday night. However, we did speak with him Tuesday morning.
“We provided him with answers as best we could at this stage of the investigation, and we will be reaching out to the family in the next few days to provide them with updated information as it becomes available.”
Clark, who said he’s retained an attorney and is considering suing the city, speculated his son was driving erratically because he had trouble breathing.
“We’ve had to put him on (breathing) machines, and he couldn’t play sports because of his condition,” he said, adding his son was likely “grasping for air or reaching for his inhaler, which is why they said he was weaving.”
Clark said the morning after his son’s death, a Detroit police lieutenant phoned and read to him the officer’s report, which said his son was handcuffed during the encounter.
“The officer said after he cuffed my son, he told him ‘I can’t breathe,’ and that they gave him his (inhaler),” Clark said. “He told them, ‘It’s not working; call EMS.’ Then my son dies right there.”
Clark insists someone should have met him at Detroit Receiving Hospital to give him the circumstances of his son’s death.
“There was nobody there,” he said. “The hospital chaplain was the only person who could tell me anything, and he said the EMTs told him my son had died of a heart attack. I tried calling police, and someone got on the phone and told me nobody was there to help me.”
Clark said it was after midnight when he placed the phone call — “but there still should’ve been somebody to tell me what happened, or a police report, or something. I didn’t hear back from the police until the next morning. That’s unacceptable.”
Clark said his attorney is seeking squad car video, along with video from nearby businesses that could shed light on the incident.