Daughter of attorney killed in police-involved crash opens up about grief and keeping her father's legacy alive

Posted at 4:55 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 18:23:10-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The daughter of prominent attorney Clifford Woodards is opening up about the grief and sadness her family is coping with following his death. She’s also sharing steps she’s taking to pay tribute to her father.

“He was an amazing father," said Melissa Connelly-Woodards, daughter of Clifford Woodards. "His wit and sarcasm are something he is very remembered for.”

While facing a devastating loss, Melissa is courageously speaking out.

“My father was also very loving. As an only child, there’s no worse news than finding out you’ve lost a parent,” she said.

To Melissa, Clifford was not only the talented, wise and brave attorney many knew, he was also someone with a passion for life.

“That man had a beautiful voice," Melissa said. "We sang in the car all the time. He was a wonderful piano player.”

A police-officer involved crash led to Clifford's death at West Chicago and the eastbound Jefferies Service Drive just one week ago. Police have since said preliminary findings show officers had lights and sirens turned on while responding to an emergency at roughly 1 a.m., but failed to stop sufficiently at a red light.

They appeared to not see Clifford's vehicle while slowing down from speeds at or above 50 miles per hour.

“On the way to save a life, you can’t take one," said the Woodards family attorney Arnold Reed.

Moving forward, the family plans to hold the city's police department accountable, saying this type of tragedy must never happen again. A law enforcement expert adding that the rules of the road still apply, even to officers.

“It was an unnecessary tragedy," Melissa said. "He was a man of honor who conducted himself as an upstanding attorney, lawyer and friend.”

Clifford's family is also pursuing talks with Wayne State University Law School to establish a foundation in his name to help African American law students.