'He was committed to the community.' Loved ones mourn loss of Detroit attorney killed in police-involved crash

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 18:30:37-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Police are offering condolences to the family of attorney Clifford Woodards. They’re also shedding new light about what caused a deadly crash over the weekend.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig spoke publicly for the first time Monday since an officer-involved crash led to the death of attorney Clifford Woodards at West Chicago and the eastbound Jefferies Service Drive.

He says preliminary findings suggest the officer had lights and sirens turned on at roughly 1 a.m., but failed to stop sufficiently at a red light. Craig adds they appeared to not see the victim's vehicle despite slowing down from traveling at or above 50 miles per hour.

The chief also says there was no excessive speed on the part of Woodards'. Police at the time were attempting to respond to a nearby emergency call and the officer behind the wheel is now on administrative leave.

"(Clifford was) a great litigator; an even better person." said close friend Arnold Reed. "Met him 10 to 15 years ago.”

Reed is a fellow attorney paying tribute to the man who made such an impression on so many.

“MLK said if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything," Reed said. "Cliff Woodard really epitomized that.”

More tributes have poured in on social media. City Council President Brenda Jones recalled sharing laughter, prayer and fellowship. Also, calling Woodards a Detroit icon.

Woodards' best friend Karen Dumas echoed that sentiment in a phone interview with 7 Action News.

“Cliff was as colorful as the suits and sunglasses he was known for in court," she said. "He was committed to the community and... challenged the status quo.”

Police have promised to provide the public with the number of injury crashes they've been involved in over the past year. The police fatal squad is continuing with their investigation at this time.

Other officers that were involved were treated and released after sustaining minor injuries. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will also conduct a separate investigation.

As of Thursday, Feb. 10, a warrant request has been issued in this case. It isn't clear yet if the warrant is for the Detroit officer involved.

Funeral arrangements have been set for Woodards. A service will be held at the Charles R. Step Funeral Home, 18425 Beech Daly Redford on Saturday, Feb. 13.

A public viewing is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same day. The private funeral service will follow immediately after at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made to The Black Law Student Association at Wayne State University in Clifford Woodard’s honor.