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man died of natural
But family and LGBT groups insist he was bashed, and offer reward
Detroit--The Wayne County medical examiner has ruled that a 72-year-old gay man’s death was not caused by an alleged homophobic attack, but LGBT advocates and the man’s family are disputing the findings.
Andrew Anthos died February 23, just over a week after relatives said he was beaten by a man who used an anti-gay epithet. However, on March 28, Dr. Carl Schmidt said that it was more likely that Anthos fell and hit his head after attempting to get a friend’s wheelchair out of a snow pile.
The friend told police that he believed Anthos may have been attacked, but he did not witness it. He heard a noise, and when he turned around, the elderly man was on the ground.
Schmidt said that he believed Anthos’ arthritic neck caused paralysis which led to a fall and eventually claimed his life ten days later.
Police spokesman James Tate told the Detroit News, “There’s no evidence that an assault occurred.”
Anthos was a well-known figure in the state capital of Lansing, where he lobbied to have the capitol dome lit in red, white and blue on the Fourth of July to honor public safety officers and veterans.
On February 13, he was riding a Detroit bus when a man asked him if he was gay and uttered an epithet. Anthos told police that the man followed him off the bus and asked him again if he were gay.
Anthos then saw his friend’s stuck in a snow bank and tried to help free it. This is when, he told police, he was struck in the back of the head.
The coroner said that a bone formation in Anthos’ arthritic neck pinched his spine as he tugged at the wheelchair, paralyzing his legs and causing him to fall and hit his head.
Athena Fedenis, Anthos’ cousin, refutes the coroner’s claim, pointing to a bruise on the back of his neck and a gash behind his ear that she believes is not consistent with a spontaneous fall.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task force is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the man who accosted Anthos.
“We’ve seen the same kinds of things happen time and again in the way in which police respond to hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the NGLTF.
A Detroit LGBT rights organization agrees. "Triangle Foundation stands in full support of the family of Andrew Anthos, whom we still believe was the victim of a vicious anti-gay assault which ultimately led to his death," said Melissa L. Pope, Triangle’s director of victim services. “In addition to Andrew's statements about the attack to his family while on his deathbed, there was a witness present who provided police with a sketch of the man we believe attacked Andrew."
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy’s office is willing to continue to investigate the case as a homicide, and has asked for more witnesses to come forward.