January 15, 2020

Death By Cop–A Call for Unity!: Wayne Reid and Judge Charles Gill

Today, I have the honor of speaking with Wayne Reid and Judge Charles Gill. These two men’s lives unexpectedly intertwined due to a tragic circumstance. In 1998, Wayne’s brother, Franklyn Reid, was shot in the back and killed by a police officer. At the time, Franklyn was unarmed.

The shooting happened in broad daylight after officer Smith and Franklyn had known each other for just 41 seconds. Judge Gill presided over the trial that went to court 13 months later. The two of them teamed up to write the book, Death By Cop: A Call for Unity!, in which they discuss the circumstances of Franklyn’s death, the ensuing trial against officer Smith, and insight into how we might reduce and eventually eliminate unwarranted police-civilian shooting.

I knew this interview would be fascinating but what I wasn’t expecting was the compassion and hope that I heard from both of these men. Don’t miss this episode of Author Hour.

Nikki Van Noy: Thank you Wayne and Judge Gill for joining us today.

Judge Charles Gill: Our pleasure.

Wayne Reid: Likewise.

Nikki Van Noy: We have two guests and I’m going to have you both introduce yourself, starting with Wayne.

Wayne Reid: Yeah, my name is Wayne Reid. I went to the University of Scranton. I am currently an assistant controller in finance at Porter Novelli. I’ve been working there for nine years and migrated to start doing this book about six years ago, which is my new passion.

Nikki Van Noy: Perfect. Judge Charles Gill?

Judge Charles Gill: Well, I’ve been a superior court judge, trial judge for 35 years, and I happened to be a trial judge in the case where my good friend Wayne’s brother was killed by a police officer.

Nikki Van Noy: Okay, perfect. You guys have a very unique relationship which I will let you go ahead and speak to.

Wayne Reid: Yeah, after the trial in 2000, Judge Gill had given my family a business card–essentially a connection which I’ve held for over 13 years. I always believe everything happens for a reason. Through a mutual friend, after a tragic event in 2013, I contacted Judge Gill and, I went to his house and for about three hours, we essentially had a therapy session. We shared our feelings about the trial, about the case, and before I left his place, I told him, “You know, Judge Gill, I’m thinking about writing a book,” and his next words were, ‘I can help you with that,’” and that’s how our connection started in 2013.

Franklyn Reid

Nikki Van Noy: Amazing, okay. Wayne, let’s go ahead and dive into the specifics of your story. Tell me about your brother Franklyn?

Wayne Reid: Franklyn was my eldest brother. He was born in 1971. My family is from Jamaica. We migrated to the United States in 1986. Throughout the early 1980s, my mother had applied for permanent residence in the United States. She received a letter from immigration service in 1984 that says both her and her husband, my dad, were accepted but the kids had to stay in Jamaica.

She rejected and we waited two more years and in 1986, my family was allowed permanent residence in the United States. We moved to New Milford, Connecticut where my mother’s father, or my grandfather, Wilbert Shaw, reside, and from there, you know, we essentially just grew up in New Milford.

Franklyn was about six years older than I was, and he was going through high school when I was in middle school and so forth. He had issues here and there with the local police department. He was a good-looking guy, but throughout the early 90s, his issues and a lot of other things that contributed to his run-ins with law enforcement. But overall, you know, he was not the perfect brother in terms of not being free from law enforcement or out of the criminal system.

He had his issues, which everyone acknowledges that. But at the same time, he was trying to make his life better in many aspects and so forth. He was always there–when I was in high school, I wrestled for New Milford which is the town I currently reside in. He was always there supporting his family, and he was supportive of his three kids as well.

Nikki Van Noy: Tell me about the circumstances that ultimately led to Franklyn’s death?

Wayne Reid: At the time, December 29th, 1998, he had outstanding warrants, I believe they were for breach of peace, failure to appear in court, and he had a bond of $13,500. So, he left the house and he was driving on a side road in New Milford and a police officer, officer Kramer, saw his car and he thought the car was heading his direction, towards his lane.

The car had passed him and so forth, so Sergeant Kramer thought, “Hmm, maybe the driver is drunk or maybe he is being inattentive,” so he decided to turn around and follow the car, which he found in an intersection with the door wide open. At that time, my brother had exited the car and was walking on foot because he had a flat tire.

Sergeant Kramer had contacted dispatch and said that he was out with 840, Frank Charlie Roberts which is the license plate, so between the communications with law enforcement, with dispatch, Sergeant Kramer realized or dispatch realized, that they had warrants for Franklyn Reid at the same address, and the car was registered to my parents Dwight and Pearlylyn Reid. Sergeant Kramer says, “Okay, maybe that was Franklyn Reid that bailed and left.”

At that same time, detective David Shortt and officer Scott Smith had returned to the police station after an earlier investigation which is not related to this incident. Detective Shortt had visited the dispatch and asked what was going on, and dispatch at Hanford said, “Maybe you should go give him a hand, Sergeant Kramer is on foot pursuit of a suspect.”

Detective Shortt went back to the detective bureau and asked Scott Smith, “Let’s go, we need to go provide assistance to sergeant Kramer.” So, both officers left the police department in an unmarked surveillance car and they turned on route 202, which is the main road going through New Milford. At that time, they spotted a black male walking, and they were unsure if that was Franklyn or not.

Fateful Decisions

Judge Charles Gill: They decided to turn around at the next intersection which would have been Park Lane West to just get a better view. At that time, Franklyn was crossing between Sander’s Cleaner and Sunoco Gas station and officer Scott said, “Yup, that’s Franklyn Reid.” So, they pulled into the Sunoco gas station and Franklyn was about 10 feet in front of their surveillance vehicle and then seconds later, Franklyn and Officer Scott Smith had eye contact.

Franklyn started to run. Officer Smith got out of the car and started to chase him. They ran across the street. Officer Smith followed pursuit and there was a lot of traffic at that time, a lot of onlookers, a lot of motorists that were caught off guard. They slowed down, just to figure out what was going on because this is something that typically doesn’t happen in New Milford.

At that time, Franklyn had stopped, put his hands up and officer Smith had taken out his service revolver and was pointed at Franklyn. They eventually ended up back on the slight embankment and Franklyn eventually ended up on the ground. Officer Smith was standing over him with his foot in his back, holding both hands and his pistol pointed in his back.

Now, the story gets a little bit–their versions are a little bit different. Officer Smith’s version is a little bit different compared to all of the eyewitnesses who saw the incident. Long story short is that Officer Smith said that Franklyn was making a movement, and he pulled the trigger and shot him in broad daylight.

Wayne Reid: In the back.

Judge Charles Gill: In the back, yeah.

Nikki Van Noy: Wow.

Wayne Reid: Probably was face down on the ground.

Nikki Van Noy: The image of him is on the cover of the book and it is powerful. That image says a lot.

Wayne Reid: It certainly does.

Families Torn Apart

Nikki Van Noy: Wayne, how old were you at this time? He was six years older than you.

Wayne Reid: Well, I was 21 years old.

Nikki Van Noy: You were 21, okay.

Wayne Reid: I was in college and at that time, I was actually with the University of Scranton wrestling team in Florida. Every Christmas, we would venture to Florida to participate in the Citrus duel, which is about nine or ten division three schools from across the country, they would congregate to Fort Lauderdale. At that time, I had no idea what was happening during the middle of the day. My parents were at the house and they received the call from Franklyn’s girlfriend Pamela. I had no idea what was happening from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm that night.

After the day of wrestling, we went out to dinner with my wrestling buddies and coach and came back to the hotel. We have a small contingent of family living in Fort Lauderdale and a family member had come to the hotel and my friends and I were continuing wrestling. Obviously, a bunch of wrestlers, so we didn’t get enough wrestling during the day, so we decided to wrestle at night.

Nikki Van Noy: Of course.

Wayne Reid: You know, we were wrestling, and then eventually, they all cleared out of the room and I looked behind me and my family member was standing in the doorway and she said, “Wayne, have you spoken to your parents today?” I’m like, “No, not really, is there something wrong?”

I knew she looked distraught and she said, “Something happened in New Milford today, your brother’s dead.” I’m like, “What? I don’t believe you.” I started laughing. “I don’t believe you.” She was like, “Oh god, you know, give me the strength to tell you, to tell you the words,” and she’s like, “Yeah, he was killed this morning by a police officer.” I didn’t believe her. I was just numb, not believing her.

I called my parents and the phone rang one or two times. I eventually called back and my mother picked up the phone and her voice was faint and tired. I said, “Mom, is everything okay?” She said, “Here’s your father.” She put my dad on the phone and his voice was also tired and faint. I said, “Dad, is everything okay? Is Mark okay?”

Mark is my brother’s name because what we do in Jamaica from some crazy reason, without rhyme or reason, we would call everyone else other names. For example, instead of Franklyn, we would call him Mark and most people knew him as Mark. So, I said, “Dad, is Mark okay?” In my Jamaican lingo.

He said, “I didn’t want to tell you because you’re in Florida wrestling,” and I said, “Is he okay?” He said, “We don’t want to worry you.” I said, “Worry me with what?” I was getting a little angry and he said, “Yeah, God all mighty, they killed Mark today, killed him dead today,” in his Jamaican lingo.

I was frozen, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The room felt like it was just getting smaller, becoming much smaller, like I was in a confined space, like a hollowed tunnel. I dropped the phone, not knowing what to think and then within a second, I felt I was on the beach alone just sitting there, staring into the dark abyss of the ocean, thinking about all of the memories that I was going through with Franklyn.

The times that we had together in Jamaica when he was in my wrestling events and the summer of 1998 when we would train at the local gym as I was preparing for the upcoming wrestling season, but all of those thoughts–I had no idea what to be thinking and thinking about the good times that we had.

At that time, I felt like I just wanted to throw myself into the ocean. That was my initial reaction.

Nikki Van Noy: I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the shock initially of a situation like this because in my experience, even when it’s a death that’s anticipated to some degree for whatever reason, there’s still always a shock that comes with death. But to have it with someone so young and circumstances that are so incomprehensible and out of the blue, just as a human being–I can’t even imagine what it would be like to attempt to wrap your head around that.

Wayne Reid: Yeah, I mean, when it’s unexpected and it’s shocking, it hurts more than anything else. I think a lot of people or so many other individuals go through the same thing when death is unexpected and shocking, it just tears at the fiber of your family. It just tears up the fiber of who you are because it’s not expected.

Nikki Van Noy: How did your life change from that moment forward? At least in the immediate aftermath of this?

Wayne Reid: I knew my family was going to be torn apart and I knew that someone had to be strong. My initial reaction when I was on the beach, I was looking for someone to blame. When my family came to the United States, one of the first things that we were exposed to was the church, which in New Milford at the time was the North Baptist Church with pastor George Britt.

To me, it felt like a lot of the sermons that he was preaching were meant for us because that’s how it felt every Sunday. When I was sitting on the beach, I was looking for someone to blame and at the time I was wearing a cross and I essentially just ripped the cross off my neck and threw it in the water and essentially, I was blaming the Lord for this, blaming God for this.

My teammates came to me and consoled me but at that moment, I realized what I did was unworthy in the eyes of the Lord and I quickly asked forgiveness. At that moment, I realized that I needed to be strong for my family because everyone else was going to be falling apart, so that’s how it changed me, it changed me to be a much stronger person for what’s to come.

Nikki Van Noy: Did you return to Connecticut in the wake of this or did you follow through with your education as you were at the time this happened?

Wayne Reid: Yup, my coach was looking for flights that night, so he was able to book me on the first available flight back to Pennsylvania. Then I drove back to Connecticut the next day. The good thing, it was in December, so I was in the intermission between college. I believe I was a junior, so my professors were very understanding. I knew that if I needed to take time off, they would oblige. I still graduated on time but my professors allowed me the personal time that I needed to be with my family and to go for the trial and so forth.

Nikki Van Noy: Okay. I’d like to turn our attention toward the trial now. What was the timeframe between Franklyn’s death and when this went to trial?

Wayne Reid: 13 months. He died on December 29th, 1998. He was buried on January 9th, 1999. Officer Scott was charged with murder on January 19th 1999, and he went to trial the following year on February 23rd of 2000.

The Trial

Nikki Van Noy: What were those 13 months like as you were waiting for this to go to trial?

Wayne Reid: They were very interesting. Initially, after my brother’s death, we didn’t have a lot of supporters. I think one of the things that the police department did, as they do in a lot of other cases where minorities are killed, is if the individual or the person that dies has a criminal record, that’s the first thing that gets released to the media.

So essentially, they’re already painting a picture that this person is a criminal, this person has a long history being involved with law enforcement and so forth. In my view, that essentially tempered public reaction.

But after the officer was charged with murder–and it wasn’t anything that my family requested or asked for, it was the state of Connecticut.

Connecticut doesn’t have a grand jury system. All of the cases involving police officers go to a state attorney’s office and a state attorney will review the case, review the statements, review the evidence, and then make a determination if they needed to bring forth any charges.

The prosecutor, attorney John Connelly, was a special prosecutor. He was appointed by John Bailey, he was the chief prosecutor of Connecticut at that time. He looked at the evidence and officer Smith’s statement, and he said, “There is no way as a prosecutor that I could turn a blind eye and say that this charge, the shooting, was justified,” and as a result, he decided to charge officer Smith with murder in the line of duty, which is a first time that’s ever happened in the state of Connecticut.

Nikki Van Noy: Wow.

Wayne Reid: Those 13 months were very interesting. I believe it was in February of 1999, there was a good amount of police rallies for the officer and they showed up at the Richville Courthouse, and we didn’t have a lot of supporters.

I remember when we stepped out on the courthouse steps and we saw a bunch of officers out there supporting officer Smith, they were calling attorney Connelly ‘Judas.’ Because they believed that he had betrayed police officers, he’s the Benedict of police officers, for bringing charges against officer Scott Smith.

Our reaction was, “Wow.” Our eyes looked completely large. Popping out of our heads on the steps. That’s how a lot of journalists and the reporters caught us, caught our eyes, and that’s what was played on the nightly news and in the newspapers the following day.

As a result of that, a lot of people started to come our way and said, “Wait a second, that’s a form of intimidation.” One of our staunchest supporters, Reverend Lewis, who was an activist as well, saw those pictures, and as a result of that, he came to my family’s side. He brought a lot of supporters, a lot of the NAACP in Connecticut and other organizations.

Nikki Van Noy: Judge Gill, in your opinion, Wayne mentioned that this was the first case involving a police officer, if I understand correctly, to go to trial. Do I have that right?

Judge Charles Gill: Yeah, at the charge of murder, yes.

Nikki Van Noy: Why was this the first one? Do you have any insight into that?

Judge Charles Gill: Probably the very special factual bases for the case. I might add that Wayne mentioned a special prosecutor, in this case, John Connelly. He’s known as the most pro-cop prosecutor in the state of Connecticut. As a matter of fact, you might be interested in this, when gave his final argument to the jury and went to sit down, he was crying. That’s how much he respected policemen, okay?

What made this case very special of course is because of the facts of the case. I think you get snippets of this in the media, from both TV and also from court reporters, but you know what? This was one of a kind case. I’ve been on thousands of them. The words and news of the reporters are actually just words, but this particular product here, I’m not calling it a book because it’s not a book.

What it is really is, it’s a drama. All this whole action from the cop, Scott Smith, from the first contact with Franklyn Reid was 41 seconds. 41 seconds to determine a young man’s death. As I’m saying, we’re not doing a novel here, rather, we’re doing chapters that we call acts and scenes, like a play, a drama, because that’s what it is.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah. Judge Gill, how did you feel when this case landed on your docket?

Judge Charles Gill: Well, I come from a law enforcement family and I am also an Irish Catholic. The three of us who were involved in this, the judge was Irish Catholic, the prosecutor was Irish Catholic, and the defense lawyer was Irish Catholic. So, I might have some chats about us doing things, but I can tell you right now, when I was asked to do this, I accepted it because I am a man that’s concerned about justice and nothing else.

Two Families Wanting Justice

Nikki Van Noy: And tell me, I am curious to hear both of your takes on the trial because you were in the same place seeing this from different vantage points, I am assuming. So, Wayne, we’ll start with you. Tell me, what are some of the things that stand out the most in your memory about that trial?

Wayne Reid: The most important is that both families were connected as a result of this incident. I wrote that as of December 29, 1998, both families were connected so –

Nikki Van Noy: Excuse me, so just to be clear, we are talking about your family and the family of Officer Smith?

Wayne Reid: Officer Smith, correct. So, we are both there for justice. Justice for our loved ones, although what we seek might be different, the emotional pain that I saw was the same thing that I would say was on the Smith’s family’s face as well. So, we were seeking justice and I felt that as a result of that, that is how we were connected throughout the case.

Nikki Van Noy: What was it like for you being in the room with Officer Smith?

Wayne Reid: I have no animosity against Officer Smith nor his family. I believe that this was an accident and if he had said that from the very beginning, there wouldn’t have been a trial, there wouldn’t have been a long five-year trial, but, I believe from how I was raised as an individual coming from being raised in the church, I believe everything happens for a reason, whether it is good or bad, but I had no hatred or animosity towards Officer Smith and I hope he felt the same way.

Nikki Van Noy: So five years–Judge Gill can you explain to me how this went on for so long? What were the facts of this trial and perhaps some of the sticking points?

Judge Charles Gill: Of course, there are appeals, so that is what took a lot of the time but, the interesting point about this whole case is that the script for the play includes dozens of quotations from everybody involved. There is no fake news here, as they say. It is all in the record and, readers of this particular drama will learn exactly what the jury saw and heard, and then some. They can decide the case, and also this could be an exciting experience for them.

Now, being up close and personal, I’ve had so much experience as a judge. I’ve had so many cases, and this particular case was very, very different. I heard the police talking at the scene and Wayne’s brother, a slap with a bullet hole in his back while unarmed. I read in the scripts about his mom falling to the ground crying. You know, these things are very, very unsettling to any human being and we are all about justice here, right?

To tell you the truth, sometimes we can’t always provide in our losses, but in this case, there was justice. You know, some people thought there was social trauma, politics, but the reality of the facts are important to us to broaden our personal perspectives to a real moment, to judge without preaching judgmental. As a matter of fact, this case could be the encyclopedia of the Bible, the Quran, or the Tora, of fairness and justice, and I mean justice for everybody. There was no animosity or no hatred. It was only love in that courtroom, but sorrow for both families.

Nikki Van Noy: Amazing and let’s talk about the outcome, what was it ultimately here?

Judge Charles Gill: Ultimately, he was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter in the first degree and was set down for sentencing.

Nikki Van Noy: And how do you both feel about that?

Wayne Reid: I felt that he probably didn’t deserve the most heinous crime, which is murder and spending 40 years in jail. I thought my family was pleased with the verdict. I think it was just at that time.

Judge Charles Gill: I agree very much with Wayne because the jury spent a lot of time on this. They were very wonderful jurors and we got to review them afterward. The point of coming to not guilty on murder was okay by me, actually as a judge, because of the circumstance of the case, the youthfulness of the officer, his lack of training, and so many other things. I thought it was probably a fair decision. As a matter of fact, I know it is a fair decision based upon the evidence that I heard and that the jury heard.

Nikki Van Noy: Did things change in your district as a result of this after the fact? Has anything like this happened again?

Judge Charles Gill: No, and I hope it never will because of this particular writing that Wayne and I have done.

Respect

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, okay. So, let us start to expand out from this specific scenario again. So, Wayne, your brother was killed almost 22 years ago and just a few days from when we are recording this and yet all of this time later, we see in the news all of these incidents of police-civilian shooting. What are your thoughts, having been through this, about why we are here right now and what needs to change?

Wayne Reid: It is heartbreaking to see so many incidents after my brother’s incident, for the victim’s families and for the officers involved. It is just a tragedy in my view, and it feels like these incidents happen in cycles, so they’ll go from, for example, 2005 to 2007, and then there is a year or two break and then again from 2014 to 2018. So, it is heartbreaking to just imagine what other families are going through losing a loved one in a very shocking way and the long audacious trial journey that they would have to encounter.

Judge Charles Gill: I agree. By the way, you should know this, that in terms of police officers, 30% of police officers on duty have shot their guns–males. Females, 11% have shot their guns on duty. It tells you something about being restrained, doesn’t it?

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, so Judge Gill I will start with you, in your mind, what are some of the answers here? How do we start to resolve this?

Judge Charles Gill: Well, there are a number of ways to resolve it, probably no cures, but first of all, we should have adequate police training. In this case, Scott Smith had no training as an investigator before he became a detective. He was out of duty, plainclothes for the first time, in an unmarked vehicle with none of the other protective devices he had such as Taser or mace. So, the training there was absolutely minimal.

It was inadequate, and in the course of this book, you will read that all of that is true. This poor guy did not have enough training or even back up from the people who were supposed to help him. So, that is one thing that has to be changed. The second thing that has to be changed also is, I think, that people ought to have a better attitude towards police and police need to have a better attitude towards the people that they are supposed to protect. That has to happen, I think, through community relations and so many other things.

But the basic thing here is respect. We have to respect everybody, every person on the street, every person that has a criminal record, every person that is a police officer. Respect is the human quality and if we don’t keep that up, we are bound to have these incidents again and they’re shocking and they’re sad.

Wayne Reid: I agree completely with Judge Gill. I think that respect is so important. The mutual respect is, I believe, what we need to strive for, by having open discussions about these past incidents, these particular incidents and say, “You know, these things occurred, let us learn from this case, let us learn from other cases so that we could come together as communities with law enforcement and find a permanent solution so that we can move forward and avoid these incidents in the future.”

That is the overall message of our book. That is what we are trying to do is to say that these things occurred but let us learn from these incidents and we can move forward as communities and as a nation together.

Nikki Van Noy: Wayne, can I ask you what your thoughts on law enforcement are after having gone through this in such a personal way?

Wayne Reid: You know, I have always had the highest respect for law enforcement. My best friend is in the military and I have other friends and family that are also police officers or in the military. So, I have always held law enforcement in the highest regard before my brother’s incident and after my brother’s incident, and that is going to continue in the future as well. I know the job that they do.

They have a difficult task and they protect all of us. We need them, and that’s where the mutual respect for law enforcement, for police officers, comes from, and I believe that is a message we need to deliver for the rest of the country, that they are human beings just like you and me. They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters, but they are held at a different standard. At the same time, they are there to protect us, not to hurt us in most instances.

If we can move towards more of community relationships and discussing the issues, and continue to discuss the issues, I believe that we can hopefully move the needle towards having mutual respect between community members and law enforcement.

Nikki Van Noy: I cannot think of a more powerful person to hear that from than someone coming from a situation like yours.

Wayne Reid: Thank you. I appreciate it.

The Idea is Born

Nikki Van Noy: Let’s talk about how the two of you specifically came together. So, you started this in 2013, which is quite a while after this trial has come to an end. How did you come together and why did this happen when it happened?

Wayne Reid: I think we just mentioned one line in the book and the tragic event that occurred in 2013 was Officer Smith committed suicide, and as a result of that, I felt the pain and at that time, and for months afterward, I thought, “You know, I think it is time to write a book.” So, when I met Judge Gill in November 2013, we shared our feelings about the case and I said, “You know, Judge, I am planning to write a book” and he said, “I can help you with that.”

So, it was a lot of research. I mean we did a lot of research–read, you know, thousands and thousands of pages to ensure that the book is 100% factual and it is down the middle. It is balanced, it is not biased in either direction. So that is probably the main reason I started to write the book, but then in 2014, between 2014/2018 there was an uptick in police-involved shootings and then I thought, “You know what? Why not tell our story so that we can assist others to either tell their personal stories or help them through their tragic moments or periods and then hopefully aid to have an end to this cycle of police-involved shootings?”

That is one of the reasons why we’d decided to write a book. Although it says it took six years, there are times that most writers would say that you have writers’ block, and I would take six months or nine months off because it was just emotional. It was the emotional stress of reliving the period, and, as an example, interviewing my parents and bringing them back down memory lane. It was particularly difficult, hearing how they saw their first-born son in the hospital–what they saw, him lying, peacefully, his eyes closed in a permanent sleep with tubes sticking out of him.

That was painful and difficult to write and, what my mother went through during the trial and even before the trial in the 90s. I feel inspired by my mother, for one. She stood up for her son, for her loved one. We try to talk about the strength of a mother, the strength of a woman throughout the book as well. So those are some of the reasons why I decided to write the book and why it took so long.

Nikki Van Noy: Wow, I mean, let me tell you, I know about writers’ block and I don’t have any actual reasons for those. That’s all very legitimate, but I think you can argue too that the timing does feel right for this, also more so than it would have had this released in 2014 or 2015.

Wayne Reid: Yes, I agree 100%. So, when we actually finished our manuscript in 2017 and I said, “Judge Gill, this is it! This is the time! We feel this is the time to get the product out to the market,” but it just wasn’t right. It was not complete. So, we started to work with our editor, Tracy Hart, in 2017 and we actually worked with her for about a year and a half, two years, and she was fantastic. She was incredible.

She essentially said, “You know what? This is great, but it needs to be developed. You need to separate your ideas because the way you write, you write as you are thinking and you may understand it and Judge Gill might understand it, but someone else might not understand what you are trying to say.”

Nikki Van Noy: It is so true.

Wayne Reid: She would say, “Okay, here are my suggestions. You go back and you make all the corrections.” She was a great editor because she said, “I am not going to write or rewrite your manuscript for you. You are going to do it yourself. I am here to revise it and help you to make it more concise.” So that’s why it took a little longer with her, as well. We feel proud that we spent the time because it is such a serious case and a serious subject that we needed to make sure that we put in all the time to get it right.

Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. I am curious if you guys have been in touch with the Smith family at all throughout this.

Judge Charles Gill: Actually, no, but we have sent what I call messengers to deliver messages of reconciliation or at least chat with them, but they have been unsuccessful. We are still on that track right now. I should tell you this, that Scott Smith’s father has passed away since his trial too.

Nikki Van Noy: Wow.

Wayne Reid: One of the things that I’d like to do is to get in contact with Mrs. Smith and just have a conversation with her and my mother. I think that the imagery of both mothers sitting down could go such a long way. It would be so powerful in order to move the needle towards reconciliation and mutual respect, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what side you are on if both these individuals could come together and have a discussion 22 years later, as a country, as community members, we can come together.

Nikki Van Noy: Absolutely. So, going through all of this, I am curious about what you guys feel hopeful about right now? Obviously, this is such a tragic story but to me, first of all, hearing you guys together and you’re both so balanced, but Wayne, especially you, with what you have been through, it would be so easy to have taken another path, one of bitterness and resentment and that’s not where you are at all. So, let’s talk about the hope that there is to be found here.

Wayne Reid: We started our campaign about a month ago and a couple of the comments that I have received are compassionate. Some people are saying, “I just lost a loved one in a very shocking way and I feel empowered. I feel courageous from what you are doing or for what you are saying.” I think that is the hope is that we can offer–courage to others and hopefully opportunities for them to tell their personal stories.

I do hope that through our tragic period, we can assist others to get through their tragic moments as well. That is my hope, in addition to hopefully bridging the gap between law enforcement and community members.

Nikki Van Noy: How about you Judge Gill?

Judge Charles Gill: I couldn’t agree more, of course. This particular publication is an American original. It is original in many ways because of what Wayne has told you and I have told you. It is also another breakthrough, I think, in America. You know, I think the more people that understand what happened here will not be so full of hatred but of understanding. That is a great attribute to have in any country in the world, particularly the world we both love.

Nikki Van Noy: You know, what occurred to me as you were saying that Judge Gill is that all of these tragic stories about police-civilian shootings, we are not reading about them in long-form. We get these media snippets. Who knows how much of this story they are, but they are snippets for something that is much bigger than that. You have said this so many times and I just want to agree with it, that having the opportunity to sit down and really read something like this and understand the bigger story, it is incredibly powerful. I am glad that this opportunity is out there.

Judge Charles Gill: And guess what? You are absolutely right because anybody looking at this drama and the pictures that are in it could be the jury. That is what we encourage them to be.

Nikki Van Noy: So, I want to bring this back home to end this interview and Wayne, ask you, what do you feel is Franklyn’s legacy?

Wayne Reid: You know, it is unfortunate that he lost his life when he was killed in 1998, but I believe that everything happens for a reason, good or bad, and I believe that now is the time to tell his story. Hopefully, by sharing his story and Officer Smith’s story, we can move the needle towards having better community relationships between law enforcement and police officers.

You know, some people are not going to agree with the case. They are going to call Franklyn a criminal because he had a criminal record and so forth, which is okay. Because you have a criminal record or you have a warrant for breach of peace or for failure to appear, that doesn’t carry the death sentence. I feel that his legacy is he would have aided through his story to bring people together, to bring communities together.

Nikki Van Noy: Thank you so much to both of you for joining us today. Thank you for providing this book. Let our listeners know where they can find more about each of you and more about the book.

Wayne Reid: Yes, so the book is going to be available on January 14th, 2020 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible for the audiobook. You can find us on @thewayneried on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Nikki Van Noy: Judge Gill? Did you have anything to add to that?

Judge Charles Gill: No, thank you very much for your questioning and the interview is very, very excellent and very well done.

Nikki Van Noy: Thank you. You guys, this is just stunning. Again, thank you for sharing all of this with me.

Wayne Reid: Thank you, Nikki, I appreciate it. This was excellent.