ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit was filed Monday against the city of Royal Oak on behalf of the family of Cody Reynolds, who was shot and killed by a Royal Oak police officer on May 14, 2018, following a domestic dispute call to the Reynolds’ family home.
Dashcam video released by the Royal Oak Police Department shows the moments before Reynolds, 20, was fatally shot. After an investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office said Officer Ryan Addis acted in lawful self-defense when he shot Reynolds.
“The events that occurred on May 14 can only be described as heartbreaking,” Royal Oak police ChiefCorrigan O’Donohue said at the time. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Reynolds family.”
A. Vince Colella, a civil rights and personal injury attorney representing the Reynolds family, said the family is “in disbelief as to how a call for help following a dispute at their home led to the fatal shooting within seconds of the officer’s arrival.”
“It is simply inconceivable that an unarmed young man can be gunned down by police without criminal prosecution,” Colella said.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of more than $10 million and punitive damages against Addis.
A Royal Oak city spokeswoman said the city will not comment on pending litigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Reynolds family, but the city will not offer any comment on the pending litigation,” reads the statement from the city.
What happened that day
Police said officers were called about 3:11 a.m. May 14 on the report of a man who stabbed his mother at a home in the 1000 block of Hoffman between South Wilson and McLean avenues. The caller said the man also attacked his father by striking him in the head with a guitar.
Reynolds was confronted by officers. O’Donohue said he was not armed when confronted by officers but “there is no way the officer could have known that.”
Officers encountered Reynolds walking away from the home, police said. Addis ordered him to the ground. Police said Reynolds told Addis he had just stabbed his mother. Police said he rushed at Addis.
The video shows Reynolds walking toward police slowly. Addis tells him to stop. He stops, walks forward a few steps, stops again and puts his hands on his head. He then gets down on the ground, but he gets up suddenly and quickly exits the video screen. At least five gunshots are heard.
“After closing the distance with the officer, Cody (Reynolds) very abruptly got on the ground, but then quickly rushed towards the officer in an aggressive manner,” reads a statement from the Royal Oak Police Department.
Police said Addis “fired at Cody as he was backing up, striking Cody.” Addis administered CPR, police said. Reynolds was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
O’Donohue said officers found a knife inside the home.
Reynolds’ parents also were treated at the hospital for minor injuries, police said. The mother’s stabbing injury was not life-threatening, police said.
Police said Reynolds was on probation for a 2017 conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious injury.
Sheriff’s Office investigates
O’Donohue said Addis had been on the force for at least four years without any history of using force. The chief believes he was doing his job the right way when he fired his weapon at Reynolds.
“Based on the preliminary investigation … there is nothing that really jumps out as misconduct,” O’Donohue said.
Addis was placed on administrative leave during the investigation. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case.
2nd deadly officer-involved shooting in Royal Oak this year
This incident was the second police officer-involved shooting in Royal Oak over a two-month span. A man was shot and killed by Royal Oak police after allegedly fleeing a traffic stop on April 10.
“They’re both very separate and distinct instances,” O’Donohue said. “It’s a challenge, but we have to look at these separately.”
The chief said that before April’s deadly officer-involved shooting the city of Royal Oak had not had such an incident in 20 years.
Watch the Royal Oak police chief’s full news conference about the incident here: