On March 12, 2000, Shannon Gholston was shot in the neck while driving his car in Ecorse, Michigan. The shot left him a quadriplegic.
Officers at the scene questioned neighbors and the names of DeShawn Reed
, 24, and his uncle, Marvin Reed, 33, surfaced.
Police said that on the following day, at the hospital, an Ecorse police detective asked Gholston to shut his eyes twice if the Reeds were involved. Gholston blinked twice for each man and within days, the Reeds were arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit murder.
At a preliminary examination conducted at the hospital on April 6, 2000, Gholston testified by whispering to a hospital social worker. He said that Marvin Reed was driving a white car and pulled alongside his car. That’s when DeShawn Reed shot him, he said.
In August, 2001, the Reeds went on trial before Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway, who heard the case without a jury.
The prosecution case rested on the testimony of Gholston. The defense presented six alibi witnesses who said that the Reeds were elsewhere at the time of the shooting.
In addition, the defense presented testimony from witnesses who said the gunman was Tyrone Allen. By then, Allen was dead—shot by police in Detroit while attempting to steal a car.
After eight days of testimony, Hathaway convicted the Reeds and sentenced both to 20 to 32 years in prison. Eight days after they were sentenced, a ballistics report on a gun recovered from Allen came back. The tests linked Allen’s gun to the bullet that was recovered from Gholston.
Still, the Reeds lost their state appeals, with the Michigan Supreme Court upholding the convictions on July 26, 2005.
At about the same time, a private investigator went to Gholston and tape-recorded a 30-minute interview during which Gholston said he had lied when he implicated the Reeds. In fact, he said he never saw who shot him.
The Reeds enlisted the assistance of the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School and a post-conviction motion for a new trial was filed.
Among evidence uncovered was that on the day of the shooting, police officers on two occasions had questioned Gholston and asked him to blink his eyes once if he knew who shot him and twice if he didn’t know. In both instances, Gholston blinked twice. That information was not recorded in police reports, according to the evidence, and never provided to the defense attorneys for the Reeds.
Following a hearing in which Gholston’s admission that he had lied was presented, along with evidence from witnesses who said that Allen, who had been in the stolen car parts business with Gholston, had admitted shooting Gholston, Wayne County Circuit Judge Patricia Fresard granted the motion for new trial on July 10, 2009.
On July 31, 2009, the charges were dismissed and the Reeds were released.
On March 10, 2010, the Reeds filed a federal civil wrongful lawsuit against the Ecorse police department. In 2012, the lawsuit was settled for $3.1 million.
- Maurice Possley