Federal officer in Detroit shooting has checkered past
Detroit — The federal officer who shot and killed a Detroit man Monday was criminally charged seven years ago after allegedly pointing his department-issued handgun at his wife's head, The News has learned.
Details about the professional career of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Mitchell Quinn emerged Tuesday, one day after Quinn shot and killed allegedly hammer-wielding fugitive Terrance Kellom, 20, during a raid in Detroit.
The fatal shooting raised tensions in the community over police conduct in light of recent fatal shootings nationwide and triggered a large protest Tuesday in Detroit. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said she is watching developments closely amid an investigation that includes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, Detroit Police and Michigan State Police.
Quinn, 39, is a former Detroit police officer who ran for Wayne County sheriff in 2004. The Detroit resident finished dead last out of eight candidates in the Democratic primary won by current Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.
Four years later, in February 2008, Quinn was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after an incident involving his wife, a fellow Detroit police officer.
"I don't know what the truth is and I haven't discussed the matter with him," said Quinn's ex-wife, who asked that her name be withheld to protect her son. "I just hope that, for everybody, justice can be had and that everybody heals. It's traumatic on both sides."
Quinn's ex-wife complained that her husband pointed his department-issued weapon at her head during a fight about emails, according to minutes of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners.
"When (she) attempted to make a 911 call on her cellular phone, Officer Mitchell Quinn grabbed her phone and broke it," according to meeting minutes. "Later, Officer Mitchell Quinn then threw his gun against the wall."
Quinn, a decorated, 12-year Detroit police veteran, was suspended and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and felony firearm, according to 36th District Court records.
Charges were dismissed in March 2008. Six months later, in September 2008, Quinn joined ICE and was assigned to the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team.
The exclusive fugitive team is staffed with members from the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Detroit Police, and targets local, state and federal fugitives.
The team's latest operation turned tragic Monday.
Around 1:13 p.m., the team arrived at Kellom's home in the 9500 block of Evergreen.
The team targeted Kellom because he was a fugitive who fled from probation in August for carrying concealed weapons.
Kellom allegedly brandished a rifle and stole cash and pizzas from a 39-year-old delivery man March 31 on the east side of Detroit, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
When the fugitive team arrived at his house Monday, he was wielding a hammer, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told The News.
"The ICE agent was met by the suspect who I was told presented a threat, and the officer used lethal force," Craig said.
There was no evidence Kellom had a gun, he said. The agent fired his weapon as he was retreating, Craig added.
Kellom died at a local hospital after being hit with an undetermined number of gunshots.
Ryan Bridges, spokesman for the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, said the autopsy on Kellom has been completed. His cause of death has been classified as homicide as the result of multiple gunshot wounds.
Following the shooting, Quinn was placed on paid administrative leave.
ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said the officer has a clean record with the federal agency.
As several dozen people staged a peaceful protest outside the house where the shooting occurred, Kellom's relatives were inside, offering mixed reactions about the police — and a different version of what happened.
"It was my nephew who was shot, but I'm telling you all police are not bad," said Shannon Sailes, 48. "The police can't win; if they're here, people say they're the bad guy, and if they don't show up, people say they're the bad guy.
"I'm upset about what happened, but let's have an investigation and let the police do their jobs."
Kellom's father, however, had a different reaction.
"I can't stand the police," he said. "They assassinated my son, right in front of me. That was an execution, right in my face."
Kellom said his son didn't have a hammer, as police claimed. "My son clenched his fists and said, 'Daddy.' Then he fell to his knees, and they shot him 10 times. He didn't deserve that. There was no hammer. I let them into my house. We were cooperating. They didn't need to shoot my son."
Protesters sometimes shouted, but the gathering was peaceful.
"We haven't had one bottle thrown," said Bobbie Davis of the Franklin Park Neighborhood Association. "We're standing behind DPD. We have some good police officers here. We're not going to burn down our city; we're going to build up our city. We're going to show we're not savages.
"But we're going to demand answers," Davis said. "Let things be handled by the Justice Department."
Detroit Police Commissioner Willie E. Burton said Tuesday he will notify other commission members about convening a special meeting with Craig to discuss the role of the Police Department on the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team.
"The Detroit Police Commission was established by the voters of Detroit, as clearly delineated in the Detroit City Charter, to serve as a bridge of accountability between the citizens of Detroit and their Police Department. We need to know what the DPD policy on employment of deadly force is and whether the DPD should participate on any task force that may not place a premium on human life," said Burton.
"Be clear: I support our police and I support the effort of law enforcement to make our streets safe for all but we must know what role DPD has with the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team, who is in charge and what is the DPD policy on employment of deadly force. We don't need a Baltimore in Detroit."
McQuade on Tuesday called the shooting a "tragedy" and said her office is monitoring developments.
"Police work sometimes requires use of deadly force, but officers may use only as much force as is reasonable under the circumstances," McQuade said in a statement. "In a situation like this, it is important to protect the rights of both the deceased and the officer. Therefore, we are closely monitoring the investigation."
The incident Monday 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.
Ron Scott, director of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, criticized the Detroit shooting.
"In light of national incidents, we find this latest shooting appalling, distressing, and despicable that another young black man has to be killed in his house in front of his family with multiple gunshots," Scott said.