GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The mother of a 2-year-old who died of a gunshot wound says she made up the story about her boyfriend pointing a gun at the toddler because she was afraid about the gun he had in their home.
Ki’Aire McCoy died Friday after investigators say he got his hands on a loaded gun and shot himself at Hidden Lakes Apartments in Kentwood. In court documents, police wrote that Markus Nevills Jr. — Ki’Aire’s mother’s boyfriend — said he left a loaded pistol in between the couch cushions. He said he stopped paying attention to Ki’Aire while high on marijuana and scrolling through his phone.
Nevills, 22, was formally charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter. During his arraignment, he declared himself innocent.
“I don’t understand this. I’m trying to see how they’re saying this is my fault. I didn’t shoot and kill him,” he said.
The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office last week declined to pursue the domestic violence and felonious assault case against Nevills after Reddick told police he pointed a gun at Ki’Aire. Prosecutor Chris Becker told News 8 it was a “he-said-she-said” and there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward.
Becker said Ki’Aire’s mother called police May 16, three days before Ki’Aire died, saying she had been in a fight with Nevills. He said when the mother initially called, she had claimed to be the grandmother.
When police got to the apartment complex where the three lived, no one was there. Officers called the mother back.
“She gave an allegation that yes, there was a pointing of the gun. She indicated she had a knife, he had a gun. They kind of faced off, and he put the gun to the child’s head,” Becker said.
Nevills admitted to police there was an argument but denied the threat.
“He said none of it happened. There was no gun, there was no knife. There was an argument, but there was no physical altercation,” Becker said.
Nevills was not arrested, Becker said. A prosecuting attorney in Becker’s office who reviewed the case decided not to file charges. Becker said there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward.
“There was no other witnesses, no other adults,” he said. “It was she said one thing, he said something different. So the case was denied.”
Ki’Aaire’s mother Jikya Reddick confirmed to News 8 over the phone Tuesday that the report of Nevills pointing the gun at Ki’Aire wasn’t true.
She said she called the police because she knew Nevills had the gun in the house and she was afraid. She said she told him to leave but he said he didn’t have anywhere to go. She said she thought if she called police and said Nevills threatened her son, then police would get him out of the house.
Nevills Jr. was a legal occupant of the home and the gun was licensed, according to Reddick.
“I want him out of my house because he has guns. They can’t come out to remove him because one, he stays there, two, his guns are licensed to him. So, wherever he is his guns should be,” said Reddick.
She said she thought the gun was removed from the home prior to the deadly shooting on Friday.
“His gun, his fault and I’m standing on it. But when it came to my kids, they were his kids too and he loved my kids,” she said.
“For any dude thinking y’all need a gun, y’all don’t. Its not worth it. Because of a gun, I lost my son in seconds. I lost my son in seconds. Put the guns down, put the guns away. Don’t have guns around kids. it’s not worth it.”
Becker said he found out about last week’s call Tuesday morning. He said there was nothing his office could have done differently.
“Domestic violence, we get about 1,300 domestic violence cases that come through this office,” Becker said. “It was nothing that jumped out differently. We get a number of these where there is a he-said-she-said, and there’s not often other things we can do. Sometimes you can follow up if there are other witnesses, but there’s no evidence of any other witnesses, no evidence of anything else the police could do … and it was a denial.”
He said his office can’t press charges based on what might happen in the future and that neither his assistant prosecutor nor the police did anything wrong.
“This is nothing new that every case we look at … especially with domestics, these are the cases that could end up like this,” Becker said. “You can’t write a case just because it might happen because then you’re charging people without sufficient evidence. Ethically, we can’t do that.”
MOTHER PREVIOUSLY CHARGED WITH ABUSE
The prosecutor had previously issued charges against Jikya Reddick after she admitted to hitting two children, a September 2022 court document obtained by News 8 shows. Investigators wrote in the document that two videos showed Reddick striking two children, both age 3, with a belt at a Grand Rapids home on Sept. 2.
Ki’Aire was there when it happened, police said. The document says that after Reddick struck the other boys, she grabbed Ki’Aire by the arm and tossed him onto a nearby couch. She was facing three counts of fourth-degree child abuse.
Reddick told News 8 that she did strike the children with the belt as punishment for throwing food on a couch but believes the abuse allegations are blown out of proportion.
“I didn’t go down there just disturbing them. I look closer on the camera and then that’s when I see literally, they are rubbing everything in the refrigerator from jelly to eggs to everything in the refrigerator into my mom’s couch,” said Reddick. “I didn’t throw him down hard.”
She said she was aware of the arrest warrant and an upcoming court hearing, but that it was her understanding the criminal case was over.
“(Children’s Protective Services) came out and took the pictures of the belt and realized that they literally said, ‘Really, this little belt?’ and they did all that. That’s literally what the CPS lady told me,” said Reddick.
Without commenting on the Reddick case specifically, a Grand Rapids Police Department spokesperson told News 8 that that generally, “arrest warrants don’t give officers the legal authority to enter a home and make an arrest.”
“If a person does not turn themselves in or is purposely evading contact with the police, it can take months or even years before that person is located and arrested,” the spokesperson said.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said it has record of “several” calls made to the dispatch center about the address where Ki’Aire died.
After last week’s call, Kentwood police called Children’s Protective Services, which is standard protocol, the prosecutor said.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services — which CPS is a part of — told News 8 Tuesday that under state law, it could not comment on any specifics about any case.
“The death of Ki’aire, a child who is not yet 3 years old, is a horrible and heartbreaking tragedy.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services continues ongoing actions to improve the child protection system and our approach to child safety, including gun violence. The MDHHS Keep Kids Safe Action Agenda includes developing firearm safety protocols to provide guidance for child welfare staff to talk with families about firearm safety. That includes creating a website with information about where families can get free trigger locks and appropriating $2 million to support initiatives related to misuse of guns, including trigger locks and other available options.
“We will continue to review this case to determine if we can implement additional safeguards to keep kids safe.”
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Becker said that at this point, he doesn’t have evidence to add a more severe charge against Nevills.
“I think (the Kentwood Police Department) is still going to continue to look into all the facts and circumstances in this…” he added. “If something else comes forward, we can revisit everything.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article spelled Ki’Aire’s name as Kiaire. His mother confirmed the correct spelling is Ki’Aire.