This is what you might call an Oops moment: There was a death in Detroit a few weeks back, of an out-and-proud senior citizen named Andrew Anthos. He was what newspapers typically call a “community activist,” which is code for a type that can range from “diligent writer of letters to the editor” at one end to “raving loon peddling conspiracy theory about the mayor’s secret link to black ops at FEMA” at the other. Anthos — of whom I knew nothing prior to his death — fell at the saner end of the spectrum.
His cause was not gay rights, but, well, wait for it:
For most of the last two decades Anthos frequently rode the bus from Detroit to Lansing to wage a solitary patriotic crusade to light the capitol dome in red, white and blue one night of the year to honor military veterans and police officers. …In an interview with The State News in 2003, Anthos said he wanted to inspire other states to similarly light their capitol domes as well.
So, OK. In late February, the news reports say, he was beaten on the street by a man who hit him on the head with a pipe and left him unconscious in the street. Anthos had just disembarked from a bus, where the same man, the attacker, directed anti-gay slurs at him. “Before and after the beating,” another account went, “the attacker shouted anti-gay slurs.”
Yesterday the autopsy report was released. Are you ready?
Natural causes. Arthritis, specifically:
The Detroit Police Department said it has accepted that Anthos died of natural causes and closed its investigation, saying no witnesses have been found to confirm a beating. … But it was likely a simple movement, not a whack on the head, that felled the man, Schmidt said. “He probably just flexed his neck,” which caused arthritic spurs to compress his spinal cord enough to cause paralysis of his legs. After spinal surgery in the hospital, that numbness later spread to his upper body and caused Anthos to stop breathing, Schmidt said. The only injury noted in the autopsy was a 2-inch-wide bruise on the back of Anthos’ head, which likely came when he fell, Schmidt said. The injury was minor, he said.
The anti-gay slurs? “Raised voices” from the general direction of the back of the bus. The witness to the attack? “Heard a thump,” turned around to see his friend lying on the ground, and a man walking away, nothing in his hand.
This could be the cornerstone of a great law-school class on the value of witnesses. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the weekend’s how-the-hell-did-this-happen analyses.
Friends, I’m tapped out of everything but muscle aches today. In an amazing turn of events, my arthritic knee is pain-free. My quads, hams and glutes, however, are screaming that I should have sat out at least one set of “climb the stairs by twos” the other day. Off for something milder. Back later.