Cromer gets 40-75 years for killing DPD sergeant

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Marquise Cromer was sentenced Thursday to 40-75 years in prison for fatally shooting a Detroit police sergeant.

Cromer also received a concurrent sentencing for shooting his father and another man during a one-man crime spree almost a year and a half ago.

Cromer shot Sgt. Kenneth Steil Sept. 12, 2016, while officers were searching for him in connection with the shooting of Cromer’s father and another man a day earlier. Steil died a few days later of his injuries.

During his sentencing, Cromer told the judge he was “hearing voices” when he shot the 46-year-old officer, adding: “I thought it was God, to be honest.”

Holding a rosary, Steil’s widow, Joann, spoke at the sentencing, telling Cromer, “Marquise, I forgive you because God forgives you.” She told reporters later that she would like to have seen Cromer get more time behind bars.

Police were searching for Cromer, 22, after he shot his father, 62-year-old Sterling Cromer and then another man during an attempted carjacking on Detroit’s east side. The elder Cromer said his son was at his home in 2100 block of Dickerson when the younger man came downstairs and shot him in the feet around 5 p.m. Sept. 11, 2016.

Last month, Cromer pleaded no contest to being guilty but mentally ill.

At an emotional hearing, Joann Steil said the loss of her husband has been hard on the couple’s young sons and has left her with “an ache that will never go away.”

“Words cannot describe the pain you have caused me and my family,” she told Cromer.

Steil said her husband was a hero and that police officers like him get no respect, adding: “There is a war against police officers.”

The slain sergeant’s sister, Karen Tonn, said her brother, a 22-year police veteran, was her best friend.

“I have lived my entire life with him in it,” said Tonn. “I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without him.”

“My brother was a rock of our family,” said Tonn. “He was so well-liked and respected by so many and it is so painful living without him now.”

Steil’s parents wrote a letter about their fallen son, read by family friend Susan Thomas.

Ken and Diane Steil recalled their son wanting to be a police officer since he was a kid.

The late officer’s parents remembered that Kenneth Steil “took down countless criminals while never shooting his gun.”

Other police officers filled the benches in the courtroom of Judge Shannon Walker along with Steil’s family members. Two members of Steil’s police squad spoke during the sentencing, recalling a brave officer who mentored younger colleagues.

Detroit Police Officer Steve Heid said Cromer deserved a life sentence for shooting Steil.

“Life is the amount of time (Cromer) has sentenced this family to,” said Heid.

Heid said mental illness is the “new excuse ... to brutally gun down officers of the law.”

Cromer’s defense attorney Sanford Schulman said of his client: “He’s not a victim but if you look at his background ... where he came from it is a very, very tragic, tragic case.”

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Molly Kettler replied, “Mr. Cromer is not the victim ... certainly this individual is mentally ill but he made choices.”

Walker said, “It is apparent that Mr. Cromer has a serious history of mental illness” that led to the “tragic chain of events” that claimed Steil’s life.

The judge also said, “As a community, we owe it to our mentally ill as well as our first responders” to call upon elected officials to demand “proper” funding for mental health services.

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