ASSOCIATED PRESS — Police, Coroner: Detroit Gay Man Died Naturally, Not from Beating

“‘There’s no evidence that an assault occurred,’ police spokesman James Tate said Wednesday. …’They determined that he died of natural causes,’ Tate told The Detroit News.”

Detroit, Michigan
March 28, 2007

Police, Coroner: Detroit Gay Man Died Naturally, Not from Beating

DETROIT (AP) — Police said Wednesday that an elderly gay man whose death became a national focus for gay rights advocates based on reports he had been fatally attacked because of his sexual orientation actually died of natural causes.

“There’s no evidence that an assault occurred,” police spokesman James Tate said Wednesday.

The death of Andrew Anthos, 72, last month drew wide attention, and was cited on the floor of Congress by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., as evidence of the need to extend hate crime legislation to gays.

But the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Anthos fell because he had an arthritic neck, and detectives were unable to find witnesses to a beating, police said.

“They determined that he died of natural causes,” Tate told The Detroit News.

“So the case will be closed,” homicide unit supervisor Lt. Linda Vertin told the Detroit Free Press.

A cousin of Anthos said she was shocked at the closing of the case and angry that police didn’t tell her before making it public.

“I’m just livid about this,” said Athena Fedenis of St. Clair Shores. “Andrew didn’t have any reason to make this up.”

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday night seeking comment from police.

According to Fedenis and other family members, Anthos said he was riding a city bus home from the library on Feb. 13 when a young man asked him if he was gay and called him a “faggot.”

Anthos said the man followed him off the bus, confronting him again. Anthos said he told the man he was gay as he went to help a friend whose wheelchair was stuck in a snow bank, according to Fedenis.

Anthos said the attacker struck him in the back of the head with a pipe and ran off after the friend yelled for him to stop. Anthos died Feb 23.

Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt said evidence did not support the report of an attack on Anthos and said a head injury likely came from falling.

Anthos probably flexed his neck, which caused arthritic spurs to compress his spinal cord enough to paralyze his legs, Schmidt said.

“I won’t let this rest,” Fedenis said. “I can’t let this tarnish him. I don’t want anyone to think it wasn’t a hate crime.”

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