No charges in fatal raid; family vows to keep fighting
Saying he acted in “lawful self-defense,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Wednesday declined to charge a federal agent who fatally shot an armed robbery suspect in a raid at his father’s Detroit home in April.
Worthy announced her decision during a lengthy news conference in which she provided a detailed rundown of evidence that she said contradicted family members’ account of the incident.
The decision means Officer Mitchell Quinn, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, won’t face state charges in the April 27 shooting death of Terrance Kellom, 20. A separate investigation on possible federal charges has concluded, but the results have not been announced.
Worthy noted that she is not hesitant to charge police officers when the evidence supports it, but this was not one of those cases.
“Yes, black lives matter. Of course, they matter,” Worthy said. “But you know what else matters? Credible facts matter. Supportable evidence matters. Provable evidence matters. Doing justice matters. And the truth matters.”
Kellom and Quinn both are black.
The prosecutor said she is “not afraid” to charge police with misconduct, and has charged 17 officers with crimes since Jan. 14.
The investigation into the shooting was conducted by Michigan State Police, independent of ICE, Worthy said. Her office then “re-investigated everything.” The work is “intricate, detailed, and we must get it right,” she said.
Worthy said evidence shows accounts of the incident given by Kellom’s father, Kevin Kellom, were inaccurate, including the location of the shooting in the house and other key elements. Kellom was not shot while prone, but was advancing on the officer after being shot, Worthy said. She said Kellom was shot four times, not 10 as others have claimed. She also said Kellom lunged at the officer with a hammer, which his father denied.
Bullets and spent casings, blood spatter, clothing, Kellom’s blood on the hammer and other physical evidence outlined in Wednesday’s press conference all prompted the decision to forgo charges, she said.
“The blood spatter patterns confirm that Terrance Kellom continued to advance despite being shot already,” Worthy said.
Further, the incident was not captured on a home video system as Kellom’s father claimed, Worthy said. Cameras in the home were set up for live-streaming but had no recording capabilities.
Other claims by Kellom’s father contradicted standard police procedure, including that his son was brought downstairs uncuffed, hands in his pockets, and that Quinn fired shots with other officers standing in the line of fire, Worthy said.
Asked if Kellom’s father could face charges of making false statements, Worthy said: “This investigation has been concluded.”
In a press conference after Worthy’s announcement, Kevin Kellom continued to dispute the official version of events and insisted his son was “assassinated” in front of him. The family’s lawyer said a civil lawsuit would be filed, and community activists were planning an Aug. 28 rally to protest the decision.
Worthy said the charging decision was not influenced by local protests or media coverage.
“Facts and evidence guide us, and nothing else,” said Worthy, adding her office has received emailed threats referring to the case.
Kellom was shot during a raid of his northwest side home by the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team multi-jurisdictional task force. The task force was seeking to arrest Kellom in connection with the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.
After getting a tip that Kellom was in his home, officers from ICE, the Detroit Police Department, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals were dispatched to arrest him.
Worthy on Wednesday said evidence supports police accounts that Kellom, whom his father initially told police was not home, hid in a second-floor attic area crawl space until he was discovered by an officer who ordered him to surrender.
“(Kellom) yelled at this officer, ‘I have a gun, shoot me b----! Kill me,’ ” Worthy said.
Kellom then began hitting the attic floor with a hammer, creating a hole that he crawled through, dropping into the first-floor bedroom closet. He was shot after he exited the bedroom and advanced down the hallway toward Quinn, with a hammer raised in his right hand, Worthy said.
Kellom’s family has said Kellom never crawled through the hole.
State police investigators examined fibers found on Kellom’s clothing, including wood scrapings, insulation, paint and drywall. The insulation matched samples found in the attic and the drywall matched the ceiling of the bedroom closet, directly above fresh debris found on the floor, Worthy said.
In addition, fresh cuts and abrasions all over Kellom’s body were consistent with a person crawling through a hole, Worthy said.
Worthy detailed bullet wounds to Kellom’s neck, shoulder, posterior flank and thigh/groin area. There was no evidence any of the shots was fired at close range, Worthy said.
Physical evidence also supported Quinn’s assertion that Kellom was armed with a claw hammer when he was shot, Worthy said. The hammer was found on the living room floor near Kellom’s body. Blood found on the handle belonged to Kellom; a fingerprint analysis was inconclusive.
Quinn was placed on administrative leave immediately following the incident and has since returned to duty, according to Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for ICE.
“This period of paid leave is a routine procedure following critical incidents,” Walls said in a statement. “The officer involved was fully compliant with the independent investigations into the matter.”
Quinn’s attorney, David Griem, said Worthy’s decision has brought a “tremendous sense of relief” to his client.
“I’ve been doing this for more than 35 years — first 10 as a state, then a federal prosecutor,” Griem said. “I have prosecuted police officers, defended police officers. If there was ever a case in which the shooting was justified, this was it.”
Staff Writers Jim Lynch, Oralandar Brand-Williams, Christine Ferretti and Associated Press contributed.