Detroit — Police were both praised and criticized during an emotional meeting Wednesday between leaders of several law enforcement agencies and community members concerned and outraged about the shooting death of armed robbery suspect Terrance Kellom.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Mitchell Quinn on Monday shot and killed Kellom, 20, during a raid in a home in the 9500 block of Evergreen. Police say Kellom, who was wanted for the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man, lunged at the officer with a hammer.
Kellom's father, who saw the shooting, disputes the police's story, insisting his son didn't have a hammer. The incident is being investigated by Detroit police and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General.
The day of the shooting, Detroit police Chief James Craig promised to hold a community forum within 48 hours. Wednesday's gathering at Grace Community Church, on West Chicago just around the corner from the Kellom home, also included officials from several federal agencies.
"This is never easy," said Craig. "Any time a police officer has to use deadly force, it's not easy. We're in a high-risk occupation ... and sometimes officers have to make a split-second decision to use deadly force."
Several times during the two-hour meeting, rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore was brought up.
"When I look at Ferguson and Baltimore, that's not Detroit," Craig said.
Craig promised to keep residents informed about the progress of the investigation into Kellom's death. "You deserve to know," he said.
Quinn is part of the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team, a multi-jurisdictional task force coordinated by U.S. Marshal Robert Grubbs, who told the audience of more than 100: "We shouldn't rush to judgment on either side. The truth will come to light."
Rebecca Adducci, special agent in charge of ICE, expressed condolences to the Kellom family and to Quinn.
"My heart breaks for what happened," she said, her voice cracking.
After presentations by the law enforcement officials, community members lined up to ask questions — and, in some cases, hurl accusations.
One woman, an Eastern Michigan University student who said her name was Crystal, but declined to give her last name, berated police for advising young people not to cuss during a protest outside the shooting scene Monday.
"Those are the words they know," she said. "They come from a failing school system, so if those are the words they know, they should be able to use them."
Craig said he plans to hold a youth conference in the near future to discuss how to better work with young people.
Valerie Anderson said she's more concerned about crime than police brutality.
"My son was killed in 2002," she said. "I lost a brother (who was killed during an armed robbery). I lost a nephew. It's the crime right now I'm concerned about."
After the meeting, Erik Shelley said he wasn't impressed.
"It was a very effective infomercial for the cops," he said. "Everyone clapped in all the right places."
But resident Rita Johnson, a member of the Franklin Park Neighborhood Association, said she appreciated the opportunity to talk with police.
"We still respect our police officers," she said. "I think this (meeting) helped people to vent, and I hope we can do it again."
Craig said he plans another another community meeting.