Anthony Hulon and his father, Stoney, chatted every Sunday about NASCAR races.
The races were something the Hulon family had been into for generations. Anthony and his father both raced cars for many years and even owned a towing business together for a time in Arizona.
But now, his father, who lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area, can’t hear his son’s excited voice over the phone to talk about the races.
“That was a very special thing for him, and that’s gone. That was their Sunday,” Tabetha Conder, Anthony’s sister, said Saturday.
Hulon died April 11 at 54 while in custody at the Lansing City Jail under dubious circumstances. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month against the City of Lansing; Police Chief Darryl Green; Sgt. Billy Windom; and four police officers: Sgt. Edgar Guerra, detention officers Charles Wright and Gary Worden and patrol officer Trevor Allman.
The suit alleges that Hulon died while struggling against efforts by the officers to constrain him in a jail cell.
The family wants Hulon to be remembered for how he lived: as a protective sibling to Conder, his other sister, Heather Hulon, and brother Stoney, and as a person who was obsessed with cars and drag racing and was smart, witty, handy and empathetic.
Aurora, Illinois, is where Hulon was born and grew up. He was a graduate of West Aurora High School’s Class of 1985, Heather Hulon said. She is a personal representative of her brother’s estate, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Michigan.
When Hulon was younger, Anthony would read her a bedtime story if their mother, Joan was busy.
“He got me my first job. He got me my first car,” she said.
A “fun guy” and “popular” with a sense of fashion who liked “The Flintstones” TV show and drag racer John Force, Hulon began an interest in cars at a young age that lasted his entire life.
“Anthony’s been doing it since he could drive,” Hulon said.
He owned several cars throughout the years — including a Chevrolet Malibu with the cartoon character Fred Flintstone’s ‘Yabba Dabba Doo!” catchphrase painted on it — and would race them on tracks in Arizona, Illinois and Michigan.
In the mid-1990s, Hulon and his father owned a car towing and repair business called Super Automotive in Mesa, Arizona, where the family moved to in 1987 and where Hulon lived until 2003.
A passion for cars is how he met one of his longtime and best friends, Mark Mosher. The two met when Hulon was 18 at a hot rod car gathering in Mesa.
“He just liked automobiles and was into racing because his dad was a mechanic and his dad liked hot rods. He did real well at racing,” Mosher said.
At one point, Hulon was ranked high nationally in the sport from approximately 1995 to 2007, Mosher said. He also won several awards for his racing.
Hulon worked with Mosher as a tow truck driver while in The Grand Canyon State and raced cars at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona, Mosher said.
In 2002, Mosher moved from Arizona to the Lansing area, and Hulon followed his best friend and their family the following year. Hulon’s obituary indicates he lived in Haslett.
“He worked for me for quite a while,” Mosher said.
Hulon also did estimates on car repairs, he said.
“Whatever he needed done, he’d jump in there and do it,” Mosher said.
Armed with what Heather Hulon described as an “infectious” smile and a “confident” personality, her brother worked at several dealerships in mid-Michigan; he even starred in a commercial for Lansing used car dealer OK Auto Mart, where he worked.
A ‘tough time’ and death
In December, Hulon lost his job at OK Auto Mart, Hulon’s attorney, Jennifer Damico, said. An employee there said the parting was a mutual decision but didn’t give details. He later went back to work with Mosher, who owns a tire and truck service in Perry. although Hulon said her brother worked with Mosher often as a “side gig.”
Hulon had been going through a divorce around that time as well.
“He was going through a tough time. I didn’t realize it was that tough,” Hulon said.
Drugs played a role in at least the final days of Hulon’s life. Methamphetamine and ecstasy were found in Hulon’s system, according to his autopsy report obtained by Damico and viewed by Hulon.
Hulon was arrested for a simple assault on April 10 after he punched his roommate in an argument, according to police. His jail stint began at 1:50 p.m. that day.
“He was arrested and in jail for eight hours,” Heather Hulon said. “He had let them know something wasn’t right and he didn’t feel good.”
Officers at the jail observed Hulon to be under the influence of methamphetamine, according to the lawsuit.
During his jail stint, he told officers he was hot and sweaty, the lawsuit indicated.
Hulon said her brother even took his clothes off and stuffed them in the toilet in his cell.
Hulon was taken from the jail at approximately 10:13 p.m. April 10 to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing for treatment, according to the lawsuit. He admitted to Allman while at the hospital that he had used meth on the day before and was worried it could have been laced with something else.
“Sparrow treated him for whatever reaction he was having,” Hulon said.
Officers and a nurse at the hospital indicated Hulon was “thrashing around” in his hospital bed, the suit says.
At 12:25 a.m., Hulon was discharged from Sparrow Hospital and returned to police custody, but Hulon “wouldn’t cooperate” with officers to get back into a patrol car and backup was called to assist.
Officer Trevor Allman, one of the policemen named in the wrongful death suit, said in his report he used force to get Hulon into a wheelchair to move him into the patrol car, according to the lawsuit. A wheelchair was used because officers observed Hulon’s arms and legs to be “shaking erratically.”
Once in the patrol car, Hulon was also not cooperating and lying down in the car’s back seat, so a seat belt was not used.
The lawsuit alleges Allman used “unreasonable and excessive force” during the transfer back to the jail and “intentionally” failed to record it on his body-worn camera and in-car camera.
With his arms shackled and hands cuffed behind his back, Hulon was escorted back to his cell at 1:04 a.m. April 11. Once in his cell, his legs were unshackled.
At this point, officers noted Hulon was “visibly under the effects of methamphetamine,” according to the lawsuit.
At 1:05 a.m., Hulon was instructed to get on his knees but did not comply because he “was clearly and objectively in a state of excited delirium due to drugs”.
The officers forced Hulon face down, onto his chest, and onto the ground.
While Allman held down Hulon’s knees, legs and feet, Worden held down Hulon’s upper body by “compressing his neck, chest and torso,” while Guerra attempted to remove Hulon’s handcuffs, according to the lawsuit.
Within the same minute, Hulon was gasping and saying, “I can’t breathe … can’t breathe … .”
At 1:06 a.m., Wright joined Worden and Allman and held Hulon down by kneeling on the middle of his back, then rolling forward, so his full body weight was compressing Hulon’s chest and torso, according to the suit.
Approximately eight seconds later, Hulon said: “I’m passing out,” alleges the suit.
While Worden held down Hulon’s neck and shoulders, he extended his left leg out and braced it on the ground, applying more force.
Hulon struggled to breathe.
“A breathless Hulon uttered: ‘I can’t breathe, I really can’t breathe now … .’” the lawsuit says.
A wrist restraint applied by Guerra replaced the handcuffs, while the other officers continued to pin Hulon down to the ground on his stomach and chest, restricting his ability to breath, according to the lawsuit.
Panting and gasping for air were Hulon’s last voluntary movements, according to video of the incident.
Despite this, the officers “continued to pull, tug and tighten the waist restraint belt” on Hulon, who was motionless.
At 1:10 a.m., officers secured a weight belt on Hulon and turned him onto his side, more than five minutes after his last movement.
A minute later, Allman checked if Hulon was breathing or had a pulse, but found neither. He then requested a medic.
CPR was incorrectly administered after a defibrillator warned eight times to give it, according to the lawsuit.
First responders arrived at 1:19 a.m. to Hulon’s cell.
“During the approximately eight minutes from the time that the defendant officers determined that Hulon was not breathing and had no pulse, to the time that the first responders arrived, no Defendant officer performed any rescue breathing and/or administered any oxygen,” the lawsuit indicated.
First responders attempted life-saving measures, but records indicated that by the time Hulon arrived at Sparrow Hospital, he had been without a heartbeat for 38 minutes.
Never regaining consciousness, Hulon was pronounced dead at 2:12 a.m. April 11.
Sgt. Billy Windom, who works in city detention unit and is one of the defendants, observed the actions of the other officers from a “main lockup area” but did not intervene at any time, according to the lawsuit.
The family’s attempts to find out the circumstances surrounding Hulon’s death only have come to light in recent weeks after the lawsuit was filed.
“It’s been frustrating. I contacted the Lansing Police Department as soon as we found out,” Heather Hulon said. “Within an hour of me finding out, I was trying to get a hold of them. It was a mess to try to get a hold of a person because everything’s automated. It was really hard.” Finally, when she did connect with a person, she was told someone would call her back.
A lieutenant contacted Hulon but was “not helpful,” Hulon said. “She wasn’t able to tell me in general what he was arrested for.”
A Michigan State Police detective in charge of the case wouldn’t tell her anything about the case because “it’s under investigation,” Hulon said.
“Really, the whole thing that prompted this was just because we couldn’t get any information,” she said. “We haven’t been told anything, and it’s been a very long time and a lot of work to get nowhere.”
On April 16, Hulon’s body was flown to Arizona for a viewing before he was cremated.
“Seeing him in person told us right away they did something to him because his face was bruised and he had some gashes here and there and some trauma to his wrists and his ankles and a few other places on his body,” Hulon said.
Hulon said she wants all Lansing police officers to be retrained so a situation like her brother’s does not happen again.
“We’re definitely hoping this is going to push the city to do something,” she said. “I know they’re trained and they always say this: ‘they train our officers well’. It just doesn’t seem that way. How do you not know when enough is enough? They should have those skills. You should know somebody can’t be restrained in that way for more than a minute. They need to find a better way.”
The family would also like to see all of the officers named in the lawsuit charged with murder for their involvement in his death, Hulon said.
Frustration and sadness are emotions Hulon’s family have been feeling over the death and the process to obtain information surrounding it.
“It’s a very, very long time,” Hulon said about holding in her thoughts on her brother’s death.
More than a month after Hulon’s death, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by police in part by officers restraining him with their arms and legs.
The Ingham County medical examiner ruled Hulon’s death a homicide resulting from “positional asphyxia” — as did George Floyd of Minneapolis at the hands of police six weeks later.
Green told local media he was “disgusted” by Floyd’s death.
At a NAACP anti-police brutality rally in June, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, Green and about 1,000 other people at the Michigan State Capitol knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time officers restrained Floyd before he died.
Hulon said seeing that, and the entire situation, has been “traumatic”.
Despite the sadness, she said she is surprised by the outpouring of support she and her family have received.
“I couldn’t tell you how much I appreciate how people are being so supportive and so nice about it. He’s not a monster. He’s not whatever they think he is,” she said.