The Case of Chad Read

by Guy White

I frequently discuss the potential for violence in custody disputes and the precautions that need to be considered. Most people would not think that risk assessment or situational awareness are relevant topics regarding child exchanges.

However, my experience states otherwise. Conflict during exchanges is not a new issue and some attorneys are not equipped to give savory advice about this dilemma. It’s been my experience that many attorneys will recommend exchanging at a public place or a police station. And sometimes that’s a good idea.

Although, I have had clients assaulted in a police department parking lot.

There is no question that taping your exchanges is crucial to document conflict, an assault, and/or denial of access.

In Chad Read’s case, documentation was not enough to stop this horrible event. However, the video was able to document his death and the situation that lead up to it.

My analysis is only as good as the video released to the public. But if either party felt threatened during this exchange, they had many different options: call the police, leave the scene, or William Carruth, the “shooter,” could have gone into the home and locked the doors.

Parents, boyfriends, or girlfriends brandishing a deadly weapon to solve a custody exchange is quite disturbing. I am an NRA Instructor and have taught gun safety and use of force classes for over 20 years. In my opinion, the shooter made a “conscious decision” to go into the home and retrieve a firearm. This was avoidable and was a direct result of both sides’ inability to control their emotions.

If I was Chad Read, as soon as I saw the man with the gun I would have left immediately. You cannot predict human behavior, and you should never bet your life on whether a person will use a gun or not. In addition, Read had the responsibility to protect himself and anyone that was accompanying him to that home which is even more of a reason to leave.

 In my opinion, the preceding situation did not justify William Carruth shooting Chad Read. From the video, it appears there was a struggle and Carruth successfully pulled the weapon away from Read’s clutches during a scuffle. He then stepped away which created distance for Carruth to raise the rifle.

To me, this is key— distance reduces threat and also gives the shooter the ability to operate the weapon without interruption. As soon as that distance was created, Carruth shot Read twice to the center mass. Again, in my view, he made a “conscious decision” to fire the weapon twice.

I have fired the weapon Carruth used, and the trigger pull unmodified is a little harsh. It takes significant pressure to pull that trigger. This can be tested in pounds. In my experience, Prosecutors typically have little knowledge of weapons and would not take something like this into account. This can certainly play a part if a person is charged with a crime and what the charge might be.

The video is quite disturbing in many ways. But what’s remarkable is what happens after Mr. Read is shot.

Nothing, it seems. Nobody ran to his aid or even seemed upset. Is this a rub on America? Are we so desensitized to violence that we are numb to a shooting death before our eyes? After all, we watch it on our TV screens constantly—daily! Between the news and movies, we see shooting deaths on a regular basis.

I wrote in my book, Child Custody A to Z: Winning With Evidence, that visitation exchange can be a war zone. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to show the court just how difficult it is to co-parent. It can also be an opportunity to prove denied access to your child or criminal behavior. I highly recommend you take a witness with you to exchanges. If you have a high conflict case, an off-duty police officer would be a good option.

Here are the guidelines from my book regarding exchanges.

  1. Video and “audio” tape if legal.
  2. Take an unbiased witness with you (off-duty cop).
  3. Go early to scout for possible conflict.
  4. Keep a log or diary of all exchanges.

Many exchanges are set up to provoke you into losing your temper so they can get an edge in your custody case. Don’t take the bait!

I tell my clients: if you are denied access, these are gifts. And these gifts can be used later to improve your case. It can feel quite dejecting to be denied access to your child, but a regular pattern of denied access can reverse custody.

Just remember you can never underestimate your opponent!


Not all child custody clients are able to win custody for various reasons, including their ability to hire professionals to assist them. Child Custody Guy and their affiliates base the success on prior results, which may or may not match your results depending on your specific circumstances. Child Custody Guy and their affiliates do not guarantee we will be able to resolve your custody issues.

This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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