Attorney: Fed agent who shot Detroit man now in hiding
Detroit — The federal agent who fatally shot an armed robbery suspect last week has gone into hiding with his wife and three children, after someone revealed his address, his attorney said Tuesday.
Mitchell Quinn, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, shot and killed 20-year-old Terrance Kellom in his northwest Detroit home on April 27 while trying to arrest him for the alleged armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.
Police and David Griem, an attorney representing Quinn, say Kellom lunged at the agent with a claw hammer. Kellom's relatives insist his hands were empty.
The shooting sparked protests outside the Kellom home on Evergreen, and calls for calm by police and community leaders.
Amid what he called a hostile environment for police officers, Griem said his client has gone into hiding.
"It's tough enough right now to be a police officer but someone disclosed (Quinn's) address. He already felt he had a target on his back, and then to have people disclose where he lives was just too much," said Griem, who did not say where the agent's personal information was posted.
"He has a 1-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 12-year-old. So he and his wife came to the very difficult decision that their family would be safer in a different location."
Griem, who said he was retained by a "governmental agency," insisted the agent was justified in shooting Kellom.
Quinn was part of the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team, a multi-jurisdictional task force made up of several local and federal law enforcement agencies. After getting a tip that Kellom was in his home on Evergreen, officers from ICE, Detroit Police, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals were dispatched to arrest him.
"This wasn't a guy who was wanted for a parking ticket," Griem said. "He was wanted for a dangerous crime."
When the crew arrived at the home, Quinn was assigned to guard the perimeter to prevent Kellom from trying to escape, while an Oakland County Sheriff's deputy entered the house, Griem said.
"There was a radio call from inside the house from another task force officer: 'We found Kellom, and he has a weapon. We need assistance.' Agent Quinn goes in, followed by another task force member," Griem said.
Quinn entered the home and approached a doorway covered by a blanket, Griem said. "Kellom charged out from behind the blanket with a claw hammer in his right hand," Griem said. "(Quinn) was within a foot of Kellom.
"Quinn orders him to drop the weapon. Instead, Kellom rushes toward him, and the agent fires once, hoping it will slow him, but it doesn't. Agent Quinn backs up as Kellom continues after him. Quinn trips over something and loses his balance, and as he's falling, fires several more shots. Kellom falls, and ends up partially on top of Quinn."
Griem said the officer behind Quinn had his gun drawn, and that he told investigators he also would have fired at Kellom if Quinn wasn't in the way.
"The other officer felt he was in danger, too," Griem said.
Griem said there were six officers at the scene. All have been interviewed by Detroit police, who turned over their findings to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. After prosecutors wrap up their investigation, they will decide whether to bring charges against Quinn.
Griem said he doesn't expect Quinn to be charged with a crime, but said he expects the family to file a civil lawsuit.
Karri Mitchell, the attorney representing the Kellom family, said he doesn't plan to file a lawsuit, and declined Tuesday to respond to Griem's assertions about the shooting.
"I'm just going to let the prosecutors do their job," he said.
An autopsy was performed on Kellom last week, although prosecutors advised the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office to withhold the report because they say it could interfere with their investigation. Family members Tuesday said they objected to the report being withheld, according to an email from Jerry T. Bell Jr., a cousin of Kellom.
Investigators recovered seven shell casings from the scene, along with a claw hammer with a wooden handle, states a search warrant return Kellom's father, Kevin Kellom, provided to The News.
Griem insisted Tuesday reports that Quinn had a checkered police career were false. While he was a Detroit police officer, Quinn was charged in 2008 with assault with a dangerous weapon after allegedly pulling a gun on his former wife, also a Detroit cop. The charges were dropped.
"The judge decided to drop those charges at the preliminary exam," Griem said. "You know how hard it is to get charges dropped at the prelim? That happens maybe one in a thousand times. That should tell you everything you need to know about the allegations."
Terrance Kellom's funeral is planned for Wednesday.