Kellom supporters upset with delay in shooting probe
Detroit — Eight weeks after a federal agent fatally shot armed robbery suspect Terrance Kellom during a raid of his northwest side home, relatives and civil rights leaders are demanding answers.
A rally is scheduled Thursday at Christian United Church of Detroit on West Chicago “to call for accountability and answers in the case of Kellom’s death at the hands of law enforcement officers,” according to the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, one of several agencies organizing the event.
Mitchell Quinn, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, shot and killed Kellom, 20, on April 27, while Quinn joined members of the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team multijurisdiction task force to arrest him in connection with the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.
Quinn’s attorney, David Griem, and Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Kellom lunged at the agent with a hammer. Kellom’s father, who witnessed the shooting, insists his son’s hands were empty.
Kari Mitchell, attorney for Kellom’s family, said Kellom was shot in the back. Griem said his client and Kellom grappled at close range, and said if Kellom was shot in the back, it doesn’t necessarily mean he was retreating.
After the shooting, an investigation was launched by the Detroit Police Homicide Task Force and Michigan State Police. The probe wrapped up May 13, and the findings were turned over to Wayne County prosecutors, who sealed the autopsy report because they said its release would impede their investigation.
More than a month later, Kevin Kellom said he wants answers about his son’s death.
“Why is it taking so long? I’ve got people asking me every day what’s going on with the investigation, and I can’t keep holding them off forever,” Kellom told The Detroit News on Wednesday. “This isn’t right, to make us wait this long.”
Ron Scott, director of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, said in a written statement: “Family members, members of this coalition and the general public are still waiting for answers and interaction with representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, who are the only ones who can answer the family’s questions.”
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said her office is “still working on a couple of things related to this case. It is the best practice to have the most complete information before making a charging decision.”
Kellom said prosecutors are taking more time because a police officer is under investigation.
“If it would’ve been anybody else (being investigated), he’d have been hooked and booked already,” he said.
Lengthy investigations by prosecutors, whether or not they involve police, are not unusual.
After Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley killed 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones during a May 2010 police raid, the investigation took nine months before charges were brought. Two trials ended in hung juries, and a judge eventually dropped homicide charges against the officer.
It took eight months for prosecutors to bring charges against Charlie Bothuell IV, whose preliminary examination on abuse charges related to his son, Charlie Bothuell V, is ongoing.
But it took less than a month for prosecutors to charge Inkster police officer William Melendez, who was captured on video striking motorist Floyd Dent. The incident happened in January, but the video didn’t surface until mid-March. On April 20, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced assault and misconduct charges against the officer, whose case is ongoing.
“Each case is an individual matter,” Miller said. “Some are more complex than others, and require more time to investigate.”
In addition to seeking answers about the Kellom investigation, Erik Shelley of the civil rights group Michigan United says he’s been trying in vain to get information from ICE about how the fugitive task force is trained and how members are vetted.
“I keep calling and emailing, but I keep getting the runaround,” Shelley said. “I know they can’t talk about the investigation itself, but why won’t they answer our questions about how they train, or their hiring practices?”
ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said he wants to wait until the investigation is over before meeting.
“I’ve spoken to him personally, and because there is an ongoing investigation into the matter, a meeting would be premature at this time,” Walls said. “Within two days of the incident, we had our senior leaders meet with the community to address concerns, and by all accounts our participation was well-received.”
Griem said Quinn and his family still haven’t returned to their home after going into hiding when someone posted their address online.
“This has been incredibly stressful, not only for Quinn, but for his wife and three children,” Griem said Wednesday. “But I’m confident when this is all over, there won’t be any charges filed against agent Quinn or any other members of the task force.”