Six had to die to 'get a couple drug dealers?'
River Rouge — Precious Moore wants to know why Kenyel Brown wasn't behind bars on Jan. 30 when he allegedly killed her fiance.
Federal and local authorities are asking the same question.
Brown, 40, was a police informant who was kept out of prison despite multiple violations of his federal probation. Because of the infractions, he could have been ordered to serve the duration of his sentence, and likely would have been in custody until March 26, when federal court records show the supervision was scheduled to expire.
Instead, Brown was free to go on an alleged crime spree from December to February that left six people dead, including Moore's fiance, Dorian Patterson. She said she's struggling to cope with the loss.
"He was a kindhearted man," Moore said. "He should still be alive."
Police say Brown also wounded another man and committed two carjackings during the rampage before he shot himself in the head Feb. 24 while surrounded by police officers and tracking dogs. He died four days later.
Brown's case has ignited controversy, leading to Detroit police pulling out of a federal task force and a U.S. Attorney's Office investigation into why the repeat violator was allowed to stay out of prison — a question Moore and relatives of other victims say they also want to be answered.
"Someone needs to be held accountable for this," Moore said. "They kept this guy out of prison because he was an informant? Six people had to die so the police could get a couple drug dealers off the street?"
Brianna Green, whose mother, Kimberly Green, was killed Jan. 30 in Patterson's River Rouge apartment, allegedly by Brown, also questioned why the habitual criminal wasn't in prison.
"What happened is a clear injustice, and my mother deserves justice," she said. "Obviously, Mr. Brown won't be able to serve time for what he did, but we believe the system needs to answer for this. Why was this man allowed to be free?"
Gerald Patterson, brother of victim Dorian Patterson, grew up with Brown. He remembers the alleged killer as a gifted athlete with a serious drug habit.
"He was a star basketball player," Patterson said. "On the street and at the Beechwood Center (in River Rouge), he was the best, but he had a bad cocaine problem. He went to prison for 10 years, and we never saw him, even after he was paroled.
"A few months ago, he popped up out of nowhere and started hanging around my house. He and my brother would sit in the living room drinking beer. There didn't seem to be any problems."
That changed Jan. 30.
Patterson said when he left for work that afternoon, Brown and his brother were in the living room with friends Kimberly Green and Clifton "Bo" Smith.
"They were just partying; nothing unusual," Patterson said. "Later on, when I was at work, I called my sister, who told me, 'a whole lot of police are at your house.' I called Dorian, and he didn’t answer. It’s not like him to not answer the phone, so I started to get worried.
"When I got off work, I tried to get into my house, and the police stopped me and told me I couldn’t go inside, because they told me, ‘this is a crime scene.’ The police asked me who I knew who was wearing an Army fatigue jacket, and I knew they were talking about Kenyel.”
After Brown allegedly killed Patterson and Green, he reportedly wounded Smith, who was able to run out of the first-floor apartment and flag down a passing River Rouge police cruiser, according to Patterson.
By the time officers got to the crime scene on Beechwood Street, Brown was gone, and the manhunt was on.
Police also connected Brown to an earlier homicide, also on Beechwood — the first crime in his alleged spree that included:
•Dec. 7: Loren Harrington, 31, was fatally shot multiple times at a home on the 500 block of Beechwood.
•Jan. 30: Dorian Patterson, 48, and Kimberly Green, 52, were fatally shot inside Patterson's apartment, also on the 500 block of Beechwood. Clifton “Bo” Smith was wounded.
•Feb. 18: Garcius Woodyard, 49, of Ypsilanti was killed by a gunshot to the head in Highland Park.
•Feb. 20: Amir Thaxton, 41, of Detroit was killed in the Next Level Custom Tee Shop on the 16000 block of E. Eight Mile.
•Feb. 21: Brown allegedly carjacked a vehicle at 5 p.m. on the 19200 block of Berg in Detroit. About 20 minutes later, he allegedly carjacked another vehicle in the 2200 block of Braile.
•Feb. 22: Eugene Jennings, 36, was killed in a vacant building on the 20 block of Minnesota in Detroit.
"The only thing connecting these cases is, they were all arguments over drugs and money," said Detroit police Chief James Craig.
Brown was on federal probation after he was arrested in Detroit in 2014 with a stolen 9 mm pistol. During his supervised release, Brown failed six drug tests, missed four other drug tests, failed to report to a drug treatment session, and was arrested for drunken driving in Hazel Park, court records show.
A U.S. District Court spokesman told The Detroit News a federal law enforcement agency requested that Brown's probation violations be overlooked, although U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said a preliminary investigation found no evidence of that.
During an Oct. 29 hearing on one of Brown's violations, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he was aware of Brown's "dangerousness," but the judge allowed him to remain free anyway.
Friedman told Brown: “You’ve got to stop doing this,” but added: “I’m going to give you a break,” according to a transcript of the one-minute hearing, which was attended by Brown's appointed attorney, Matt Savich, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Fairchild.
Savich declined to comment Thursday, while Schneider has requested that all involved federal agencies — his office, U.S. District Court, the DEA and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — refrain from commenting during the ongoing probe.
Hours after Brown was released, he was signed up as an informant by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration/Detroit police task force — which Craig said was no coincidence.
"It’s magical that on the same day he was released from supervision, he gets signed by the DEA; I find that interesting," Craig said. "I do not have the answer."
Craig said Brown was an informant for the ATF before the agency's agents introduced Brown to members of the DEA/Detroit police task force on Oct. 29.
The chief added DEA had used Brown as an informant before the ATF signed him up, although he said the DEA didn't formally register him as an informant, a violation of U.S. Department of Justice guidelines.
A DEA spokesman said Thursday he would honor Schneider's request to refrain from commenting during the U.S. Attorney's investigation.
Craig pulled his officers out of a DEA/Detroit police task force March 2, following what he described as a "somewhat contentious" meeting with Keith Martin, special agent in charge of the DEA's Michigan and Ohio offices.
Craig said he removed his officers because Martin denied his agents had used Brown as an informant, which he called a "breach of trust." Craig and Martin said they will continue to work together on drug cases, although not as a task force team.
According to Craig, the only time the DEA/Detroit task force used Brown as an informant, his tip about drug activity involving a southwest Detroit gang didn't pan out.
"The DEA and ATF apparently thought he was valuable, but he didn't give us anything useful," Craig said.
Brown had an extensive criminal history dating to 1997, when he was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon. In 1999, he was convicted of fleeing a police officer, and in a separate case, attempting to illegally use a Taser.
From 1997 to 2000, Brown entered plea deals in six cases, Wayne County court records show.
In 2001, Brown was again convicted of fleeing a police officer and was sentenced to prison as a habitual fourth offender. He was paroled in 2010 and discharged from parole the next year, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Brianna Green said her mother was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"She just happened to be visiting with friends," she said. "She's not connected to (Brown) in any way."
Kimberly Green worked as a health care service provider in Ann Arbor, her daughter said.
"She was devoted to helping other people. She was a phenomenal, beautiful woman with a huge heart."