Why did Texas police shoot paraplegic folk singer, Andrew Reid?

I totally feel like Nancy Drew right now, researching a shooting, the only difference is that it’s depressing; not fun. I was intruiged when I read on Google news about a Canadian folk singer and paraplegic, Andrew Reid, 37, who was shot and killed by Texas police last Friday. Police say he pulled one of their guns on an officer during an altercation.
Pretty crazy…a man who can’t walk overtaking a cop’s weapon? But that’s another story for another time.
I had never heard of Reid until today, but he was apparently pretty well known in the disability community. He was the 2001 Canadian Handcycling Champion and had recorded several records (Reid was paralyzed in a surfing accident in ‘99). He was also in the band, Rehab Mama, which he describes on his site – Reid Records – as “early Cowboy Junkies” (I’m glad his site is still online, btw. Fascinating).

And if you look at his site vs. the news stories, it’s easy to get a varied image of Reid. He was not some random crazy person in a wheelchair. No, he was educated, talented, attractive, and what people thought at least, sane. Just what happened to Andrew Reid?

The previous day was when things started to go downhill. Reid was road tripping it alone from California to Austin, TX, where he was going to visit a friend. And it was in Fort Stockton, TX, a day before the shooting, where he was in a 50 kilometer police chase, which the police aren’t giving any details on and that in it of itself is weird enough (who gets into several mile police chases out of the blue?). He was quickly captured, jailed overnight and released the next day. Done deal, right? Not quite.

Upon his release, police were called to his motel. Reid was hollering in the motel parking lot. When police arrived they tried to calm him, but he grabbed one of the officers’ guns and pointed it at his stomach. That was when the other officer shot Reid twice, fatally wounding him.

Who knows what was really going on in Andrew Reid’s mind (or life for that matter) last week when this craziness ensued. All of the news stories are incredibly vague and the people who knew him say they’re shocked at his actions.

It’s hard whenever a vivacious person with a spinal cord injury, someone doing amazing things and has so much promise, meets a sudden end. It’s like I knew him. I know exactly what his paralyzed existence was like. I know how hard it was.

And for the record, pointing that gun at the cop was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

Read comments on this blog here

  1. thats one crazy, sad story, i wonder what the problem was, or if anyone will ever know.

  2. From what I’m reading here, this could very well be another case of “suicide by cop,” unfortunately not all that uncommon.

  3. i think it deserves a court tv profiling.

  4. I never met Andrew, but my wife knew him quite well in high school and was shaken to the core when she heard of his death. From everything I have come to discover about Andrew Reid, he was a remarkable, intelligent and inspiring person.

    As a filmmaker I have observed the news stories about what happened and find them very vague, but also with a slant that paints an unfair picture of Andrew as an irrational drug addict or mentally disturbed individual. On top of being unfair, there seems to be a concerted effort to avoid exposing simple details that would otherwise be illuminating.

    Although somewhat speculative, I offer the following scenario as one that could be more in keeping with what actually happened. Some of this comes from questions I have asked of those who knew him, while anything I suggest about the events in Texas are speculation, unless previously reported in the news:

    I am told Andrew Reid had chronic pain related to his paraplegic condition. It was this pain that caused his initial pain killer addiction problems, which he later triumphantly overcame. He even wrote a book about his recovery, his belief in living life to the fullest and his love for God.

    It has been suggested that after his recovery from heavy pain killer addiction, Andrew Reid wanted to be sure he would avoid an addictions trap again. Therefore, he was legally prescribed marijuana in minor doses to help him cope with pain in a moderate, controlled and far less addictive manner. This fact becomes relevant to later news spin.

    Previous to his death, Andrew got in his vehicle in California, which he would have been able to drive independently, with the help of a hand operated brake and accelerator system. He had made commitments to friends in Austin, Texas, that he would be there at a certain time; possibly he was being depended upon to arrive for something related to his music career. The industry of music has its share of make or break moments that are based on just showing up to make the right gig in time. Alternately, he may have been urgently needed by a friend due to his background as an addictions counselor, making his destination of vital importance to him.

    As he entered Fort Stockton, Texas, he may have found himself in tight traffic. To top it off, an earlier trucking accident, had slowed traffic to a halt. As time ticked on Andrew may have felt somewhat frustrated and stressed at the loss of time and his worries that he might let down his Texas friends if he showed up late for a crucial, possibly career defining, meeting. As Andrew neared the source of the traffic congestion, he may have noted that fire trucks and police vehicles seemed to be holding up traffic unnecessarily, as there was obviously enough space for cars to get through if they really wanted to let them. He may have called out, in his urgency to get moving, “Hey! What’s the hold up!”

    Even when it looked like traffic might be starting to move again, officers seemed to be halting traffic for yet more of their cars to move back and forth, despite opportunities for other cars to move on through as well. At some point Andrew saw another opening for traffic to flow and still police wouldn’t usher traffic through. Out of a combination of frustration, personal initiative and assuming that cops might be too busy to prioritize traffic flow, Andrew turned onto a clear shoulder of the road, and drove his car past the accident scene, startling a fire truck operator who was nearby. (The fire truck operator later claims that he felt he was nearly hit by the car). Andrew speeds up, accelerating away from the blocked area, not realizing the police are more than angry that he hasn’t waited passively for them to give him official permission to proceed. One of the officers jumps in a police cruiser and starts to head after him, but Andrew, traveling at highway speeds, is far enough ahead that he is unaware of the pursuing officer.

    The officer in pursuit worries that he won’t catch Andrew, before he loses him at an exit. He radios in for support with a hyperbolic statement about chasing a fleeing vehicle. Rather than attempting to wave Andrew down, other officers lay down road spikes further up the road. Andrew hits them and stops.

    Of course, Andrew feels the actions are excessive and gets irritated with the officers for wrecking his car tires and treating him like a criminal. Because he is irritated and verbally challenging them, the ego tripping cops handcuff and arrest him.

    Thrown in jail for the night, Andrew feels harassed by the Stockton cops, after they find his medicinal use marijuana coupled with their angst at his rushing past their accident site. Andrew is both shocked at their treatment of him and intensely disappointed that the police have taken his mode of transportation, his driver’s license and destroyed his chances of getting to whatever urgent appointment he had intended to get to.

    After a night in jail, police refuse to restore his driver’s license to him and decide to charge him, while insisting that his only option will be to have family fly down from New Brunswick, Canada, to retrieve him. The police take him to a local motel and drop him off for his family to retrieve him.

    The biggest mystery is found in what happens next. Andrew became desperately upset. It may be that his chronic pain was becoming unbearable, since officers had confiscated his only source of prescribed pain relief and left him there with no help. To top it off, Andrew may have found out that the cost of missing his destination appointment came with a heavy price to his friends or to himself.

    Feeling upset and in major pain, he had no other option, Andrew began moving about the parking lot of the Motel tapping on doors for Asprine, Advil or any kind of pain medication that might pull him through till family arrived. A slightly paranoid motel guest calls 911 and states that a man in a wheel chair is causing a disturbance. They may have seen the police drop him off and been afraid to lend any assistance, assuming Andrew was just unstable.

    The police, with a chip on their shoulder already over Andrew, head to deal with the disturbance issue. Unfortunately they send a rookie male cop and a trigger happy female officer. The two officers arrive to see Andrew in the parking lot, calling out to people at the motel, “Come on! I just need freaking Asprine! Someone give me a hand!”

    When the police show up they get verbally aggressive right away, telling Andrew he is on thin ice. Andrew may have been irritated at their demeanor, since they are partially the cause of his woes. However, he says he needs something for his pain and things calm down for a minute, as reported, since Andrew momentarily believes he might get help.
    Ultimately the deputy officers tell Andrew they can’t help him, as they have labeled him irrational and a drug user. According to the cops, he’ll just have to deal with it till family arrives.

    Andrew barks at one of them, “You idiots take away everything and tell me its my problem?!”

    The cops get irritated with Andrew’s confrontational and disgusted tone and figure they’ll put him in his place. They tell him they are going to arrest him for disturbing the peace, to which Andrew gets more irritated as the police seem to be getting more unreasonable than ever.

    Andrew tells the cops to get lost. The female officer pulls out handcuffs and reaches for his wrist and Andrew draws back, saying they can’t arrest him for being in pain and needing help. The rookie cop unsnaps his gun and places a hand on his readied weapon, telling Andrew to cool it. Andrew keeps pushing the female cop’s hands and handcuffs away.

    Andrew is starting to think this whole thing is an overblown intimidation show. Just then the rookie cop sticks a hand in to try and assist in forcing Andrew into handcuffs, while either consciously or unconsciously sliding his gun out of its holster in the other hand, casually pointing it in Andrew’s direction.

    Andrew is startled and sticks his hand on the cops gun loaded hand and shoves it away, causing it to fire off one stray shot. The rookie releases his weapon, leaving Andrew holding it. Andrew, shocked at the situation himself, holds out the gun to the cop and says, “You could have killed someone. Here… Take this and put it away.” However, the cop freezes and doesn’t take the weapon. As Andrew gestures to the other cop saying “Here you take it then”, the female officer fires her weapon twice at Andrew.

    The rookie looks at the female cop, “What the hell did you just do?”, he asks her. “I thought he fired your weapon at you” she answers. “No. the bullet was fired accidentally”, he says. This was when they had to come up with a way to spin it all.

    The two cops, realizing they have over reacted to the situation, concoct a story that spins the story so it absolves them of guilt. They question the local motel attendant (he was later in a televised news clip) and discover that he did not witness the shooting, only the verbal scuffle and he heard the shots fired, while calling 911.

    The official story to the press eliminated the word “marijuana”, claiming only that Andrew had “narcotics” in his system. They knew nobody would buy the story that a man in a wheel chair was a hard core nut job because he had some prescribed medicine for chronic pain. They also left out the reason for the disturbance at the motel, since providing Andrew’s rational reason for being upset would only make their story seem shaky. Better to make him seem a raving lunatic. Lastly, it must have been decided to make the entire report as vague as possible, so nobody would grasp how overblown the cops had made the situation.

    In retrospect the cops likely realized that, without their ego trips, they could have given him a moving violation ticket, returned his prescription pain reliever and treated him like a rational human being that needed some understanding.

    That’s it. That’s the scenario I have conjured in my head through a combination of actual news reports, friends testimony of what a decent guy Andrew was and my own speculations on how a very nice, rational guy winds up shot by inept and corrupt cops.

    Unless more info comes out on this, I say my story makes a lot more sense than the hole ridden story the press has been saying. I hope someone can get to the real bottom of this. One thing I can say for certain is that Andrew will be missed immensely by those who love him and by those he inspired, both with his words and actions.

    1. I knew Andrew when we were wee children. If you ever make a film…well I have some setting images and moods of the era that few would have. We’re talking about a kid that everyone one knew was special. In an era when he could just live among us like a regular person.

  5. Not sure if you heard but Vic Chesnutt (quad singer-songwriter from Athens, GA, who was buddies with Michael Stipe of REM) died of an overdose, thought to be deliberate, on Friday. He was 45 and was being sued to the tune of $70,000 by local hospitals.

    Kristin Hersh, ex Throwing Muses, set up this appeal for VC’s family.

  6. The time is coming, when people are gonna start shooting back at those bastards. The time is coming, and it ain’t too far away.

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