Family wants probe reopened in fatal ICE shooting of Detroit man

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
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Nabih Ayad joined family members of Terrance Kellom and civil rights leaders Monday outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit in calling for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to reopen the probe of his death April 27, 2015.

The lawyer for the family of a Detroit man shot and killed by a federal agent is calling for the investigation into the shooting to be reopened following new statements by a Detroit police officer that call into question events surrounding it.

Nabih Ayad joined family members of Terrance Kellom and civil rights leaders Monday outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit in calling for the offices of the Wayne County prosecutor and the state attorney general to reopen the probe of his death April 27, 2015.

Kellom was shot after officers from the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team 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, Detroit police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News at the time.

"Mr. Kellom was unarmed. Terrance Kellom did not have a hammer," Ayad said Monday. "There was no hammer. It was never there."

Charges were not filed against the agent, identified as Mitchell Quinn of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A veteran Detroit police officer, Darrell Fitzgerald, who reportedly previously said Kellom had a hammer in his hand, has changed his story and now denies the man had a hammer, Ayad said.

The attorney said Fitzgerald changed his account of what happened during the raid while testifying in a federal lawsuit last November.

"Under oath testimony, he changed his story 100-fold," said Ayad. "He said there was no hammer. Even though before he said 'I seen him clench a hammer.' He came back and said there was no hammer. He wasn't holding a hammer. He didn't see anything in his hands. He didn't even see a hammer that night, which bolsters our position from day one and the family's position from day one."

In a statement, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said the 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."

A hearing is scheduled this month in the federal lawsuit, which was filed two years ago. 

Kevin Kellom said Monday his son did not have a hammer, adding, "My son was shot down like a dog in front of my face."

He vowed to get "justice for my son" and thanked Fitzgerald.

"I thank God this man came forward and told the truth," said Kevin Kellom.

Ayad said he's not trying to "have the (officers) put in jail but he is trying to get to the truth."

"The family deserves the truth. The community deserves the truth. It's one thing for the father to see his son executed in front of his own eyes but it's another to add salt to injury ... when you say he was coming at him as an attempted murder trying to kill a federal agent with a hammer," he said.

Ayad said the investigation into the shooting "was botched from Day One" and should have been referred to an independent agency that did not have close ties to the Detroit Police Department, which had officers at the scene. A Michigan State Police detective investigated the shooting.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, said the death  "cries out" for a re-examination of the shooting.

"We believe that the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team may have characterized this shooting with facts that now appear to contradict what has been reported," said Anthony. "If we are truly to have justice for all of our citizens, then we believe that this case must be reopened." 

The Michigan Attorney General's Office said it is "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," said spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.

(313) 222-2027


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