Nessel's office to reopen probe in fatal ICE shooting

George Hunter
The Detroit News
Terrance Kellom

Detroit — The chief of staff for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has informed the family of a 20-year-old man who was killed four years ago by a federal agent that the AG's office will review the case, according to a family attorney.

Terrance Kellom was fatally shot April 27, 2015, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Mitchell Quinn, who said Kellom threatened him with a hammer.

Laura Moody, Nessel's chief of staff, wrote a letter to the Kellom family on April 10 pledging to give the case another look.

"While I cannot promise a particular outcome, I can promise that this case will be reviewed by an experienced criminal attorney," Moody wrote.

Kellom was shot after Quinn and other officers on the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team task force went to his father's home in the 9500 block of Evergreen, looking for him on an arrest warrant in connection with the alleged robbery of a pizza delivery man weeks earlier.

When the fugitive team arrived at his house, Kellom was wielding a hammer, police officials said. That story was corroborated by a Wayne County prosecutor's investigation, and prosecutors declined to charge Quinn with a crime — but family attorney Nabih Ayad called for reopening the investigation after it was revealed one of the cops at the scene had changed his story.

Detroit police officer Darrell Fitzgerald, who had previously said Kellom had a hammer in his hand, changed his story while testifying in a federal lawsuit last November, denying Kellom had a hammer.

"This corroborates what the family of Terrance Kellom, who witnessed the shooting, have said all along: That Terrance did not have a hammer, did not pose a threat to any officer, and was executed," Ayad said in a press release Tuesday. 

"This is an important public issue that needs to be addressed as it is not every day that a police officer changes his statements to tell the truth of what really transpired in the killing of a young African American male," Ayad said.

Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney told The News in an email Tuesday: “We are committed to making certain that residents of our state have confidence in our justice system.

"As with any case involving allegations of police misconduct, we are more than willing to sit down with the attorneys for Mr. Kellom’s family and with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office," Rossman-McKinney said.

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls declined to comment Tuesday.

The fatal shooting raised tensions in the community over police conduct, and triggered a protest in which a former assistant police chief was threatened and repeatedly shoved by members of the irate crowd before other officers arrived.

The incident happened hours before Baltimore rioters threw rocks and other items at police and burned several buildings in response to the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody.

Detroit police chief James Craig held a community meeting days after the shooting to allow residents to air their concerns and ask questions of federal and local police officials.

Quinn is a former Detroit police officer who ran for Wayne County sheriff in 2004. The Detroit resident finished last out of eight candidates in the Democratic primary won by current Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

In February 2008, Quinn was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after an incident involving his wife, a fellow Detroit police officer. He was acquitted.

In addition to Moody's letter, Ayad on Tuesday provided with his press release a March 25 letter from Joe Jansen, deputy chief of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Special Operations Division, to Kellom's parents.

Jansen promised in the letter: "We are reviewing this new information to determine if it would in any way affect previous review and decisions regarding the circumstances of your son's death."

In a statement, assistant prosecutor Maria Miller said: “The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing new information in the Terrance Kellom case to determine if it would in any way affect our previous review and decision regarding the circumstances of Mr. Kellom’s death.”
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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN