They Never Took Him Alive: The Story of Tory Anthony Reed
By Jesse B. Gill
It’s just that every time someone dies at the hands of deputies or police officers, prosecutors always release a report on the case. And while these reports are never released until months, sometimes years after the death in question, the reports themselves are usually so rich with details and information that often goes unreported because . . . well, after a while, people stop caring about most cases.
Take, for example, the case of Tory Anthony Reed, a 28-year-old semi-professional football player from Pasadena.
A San Bernardino County sheriff’s SWAT team shot and killed Reed on April 19, 2011 after a standoff that ended with the officers charging in after him. His death marked the end of a tragic few days that began in Colton.
Actually, to say the story began in Colton isn’t accurate. Whatever preceded what happened in Colton must have stretched back a ways but Reed first popped into our consciousness on April 17, 2011.
That’s when Colton police say Reed killed his ex-girlfriend, 22-year-old Breana Neiro, and 25-year-old Darnell D. Haley, of Pomona, who was staying with her, but according to reports was not romantically involved with her.
Officers responded just after 4:30 a.m. to Neiro’s apartment at a complex at 800 E. Washington Street. When they got there, they found Neiro dead, with gunshots to the head and neck. Haley was still alive, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Paramedics rushed Haley to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died a short time later.
Colton officers found spent shell casings from a .380 handgun inside Neiro’s apartment.
Detectives interviewed four witnesses who where inside the apartment when the shots rang out. Before long, a theory took shape—Investigators believed Reed arrived at the apartment about 4:30 a.m., he smashed through a sliding glass door, found Neiro and Haley, and shot them both.
One of the witnesses, also an ex-girlfriend of Reed’s, told investigators that she was afraid of Reed, that he had been violent with her in the past (Reed had a 2006 domestic violence conviction on his record, according to prosecutors. He served probation and 90 days in jail.). Reed also told her outright that he killed Neiro and Haley, she told detectives.
She also said Reed told her he was not planning to surrender. He said he would not spend the rest of his life in prison and he was willing to be killed by police to make sure he wouldn’t have to.
The witness said Reed he wanted to be killed by officers and planned on pretending like he was pulling a gun to provoke them.
Reed had disclosed this information (along with saying he had thrown away the murder weapon) during the same conversation in which he tried to convince this surviving ex-girlfriend to run away with him on his trek east to find his mother.
The ex-girlfriend’s godfather also spoke to investigators. The man said he had just given Reed permission to stay in his north San Bernardino apartment, claiming not to know anything about Reed’s admitted slaying of Neiro and Haley.
So Colton detectives got a search warrant for the apartment at 4080 N. F St. and called in the sheriff’s department SWAT team to come root him out.
A small army of sheriff’s officials and SWAT members descended on the quiet, mostly-rural neighborhood in the late afternoon on April 19, 2011.
An armored personnel carrier (APC) rolled the SWAT team up to about 20 feet in front of the apartment they knew Reed was hiding out in. Det. Glen Alfaro took cover behind and to the right of the APC, with a full view of the apartment’s front door. Alfaro was ordered to shoot Reed with a less lethal weapon (most likely rubber bullets) if he had the shot, the plan to incapacitate him long enough for the other officers to swarm in.
Then SWAT brought in a massive claw that ripped off most of the apartment’s front wall, including the doors and windows. This left officers with a wide-open shot inside the apartment. At first there was no sign of Reed.
Deputies called out to him using the APC’s powerful PA system, asking him to surrender. Reed refused.
Then deputies spotted him, crouching low in a corner of the hallway, about twenty feet away from the gaping hole that used to be the front window and door.
Reed refused to come out, mostly peeking out from his spot and darting back behind the wall. At one point, he showed both hands, Alfaro later told investigators. At another, Reed placed his right hand behind his waistband.
Det. Dan Futscher said he heard Reed say he was unarmed.
“That’s fine,” Futscher responded. “But I need to see both hands to make sure you stay unarmed.”
Then, without warning, Reed shot out from his hiding spot and darted toward the SWAT team.
Reed brought his hands up from behind his back, Alfaro said. It looked like had a dark object in his hands and he pointed it—like a gun—at the deputies.
Alfaro reacted, firing a burst of very real bullets from his M4 rifle into Reed’s chest.
Futscher pulled the trigger on his own M4 at the same instant, sending a round into Reed’s upper torso.
Reed immediately went down, lying face down toward the huge hole in the apartment wall. His hands were pinned beneath his body. He was moving and deputies shouted orders to him as they approached, cautiously.
They told Reed to put his hands behind his back. Instead, he began to push himself up.
That’s when Alfaro hit him with another burst from the M4, this time to the right shoulder. Dep. Ryan Peppler also loosed three shots at Reed with his own M4.
Peppler later told investigators that he believed his rounds hit Reed in the top of his head.
Reed was down and he was staying down.
He was also not armed. Detectives later found a pair of dark sunglasses and a cylindrical vacuum cleaner attachment near the spot where Reed went down, but no one could say whether he had either in his hands at the time he was shot.
A SWAT entry team moved in, protected by a ballistics shield. Using it, hey pinned Reed to the ground and used plastic zip-ties to handcuff him. They made sure the rest of the apartment was secure and called for paramedics.
An autopsy revealed Reed had been shot ten times (though 43 .223 caliber casings from the M4’ were recovered at the scene). He was hit once in the head, once in the neck, five time sin the left shoulder, once in the left arm, once to the chest and once in the right shoulder. THC was found in Reed’s blood samples.
Because of the threat created when Reed rushed at them with his hands raised, Alfaro, Futscher and Peppler were cleared in May of any wrongdoing by the District Attorney’s Office. Reed had also been described as armed and dangerous, with further justified prosecutors’ beliefs that the men took appropriate action in shooting and killing Reed.
“Here, each of these trained officers upon observing the conduct of Reed when he charged them from behind the wall and his subsequent movements and actions seconds later from the ground believed, in both instances, that he threatened them with imminent bodily injury or death and that the use of immediate deadly force was necessary to defend against the danger,” Deputy District Attorney Terry Brown wrote in the report that detailed Reed’s death.
And in the end, Reed’s death came exactly the way he said he would when he spoke to one ex-girlfriend shortly after executing another—he died at the hands of deputies because he refused to be incarcerated.
The story of Reed’s death was fairly high-profile when it happened. The SWAT team incursion on the North F Street neighborhood drew out the neighbors, many of whom pulled out their camera phones. A handful shared their footage with local broadcast news outlets and the story got some exposure.
But like the majority of these kinds of shootings, the story didn’t provide any details salacious enough to keep it at the front of the news cycle for more than a day. So after a while, people forget as they move on.
So, in conclusions, we hope our readers don’t mind us taking a moment to get into the details of these shootings, even when they’re old news.
Somebody’s got to do it.
Email Jesse B. Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jessebgillcrime.