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Calls for reinvestigation after new evidence raises questions about 2015 police shooting death

Detroit Police Department

Nearly four years after he was shot by officers trying to arrest him at his father’s Detroit home, Terrance Kellom’s parents say evidence from their federal lawsuit shows the police account of their son’s death doesn’t make sense.

The initial story was that a single federal agent, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mitchell Quinn, shot and killed Kellom when a multi-agency task force attempted to arrest him on an armed robbery warrant in April 2015.

Quinn and other officers on the scene said Kellom dropped down from a ceiling and advanced on them with a hammer.

But one Detroit police officer who initially said he saw Kellom with a hammer backtracked under oath.

During a November deposition in the Kellom’s federal lawsuit, Officer Darrell Fitzgerald said that contrary to his initial report, he never saw Kellom with a hammer— and that when he first saw Kellom, he was on his knees, not coming toward the officers.

Kellom’s parents, along with their attorney Nabih Ayad, are calling on Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the state attorney general’s office to re-investigate Kellom’s death.

Worthy cleared Quinn and other officersof any wrongdoing after what she called an exhaustive review of the evidence by Michigan State Police in 2015.

But Ayad says the court case has begun to reveal “the real truth.”

“And the real truth is that Terrance Kellom indeed did not have a hammer. He indeed was shot multiple times, we believe by another shooter, in that room, in that house,” Ayad said.

Bullets struck Kellom from four different directions including twice in the back, according to a report prepared by former Michigan State Police forensics expert David Balash. Balash was retained by Ayad as an expert in the wrongful death case.

“The investigation into the shooting death of Terrance Kellom by the Detroit Police Department appears to have been driven solely by what the shooter and the other members of the arrest warrant entry team told investigators what happened, rather than having the evidence drive the investigation,” Balash wrote.

“Mr. Kellom was struck by four (4) fired bullets, all entering his body from four (4) different directions and angles, making the account of the shooting given by Agent Quinn and other members of the team inconsistent with the evidence.”

Ayad says the MSP’s lead investigator on the case, Detective Richard Sanchez, is closely tied to Detroit Police, and that he failed to question witnesses or examine forensic evidence before concluding his investigation.

“It all doesn’t match up. The investigator didn’t do any real investigation,” said Ayad. “Which bolsters our position from day one, and the family’s position from day one, that this was an entire cover-up, by state, federal and local police agencies.”

Terrance’s father Kevin Kellom, who witnessed his son’s killing, has always insisted his son didn’t threaten officers that day. He admitted his son was “disrespectful,” but says that shouldn’t have gotten him killed.

“My son never had a hammer. Which I knew this from the jump, but still my son was shot down like a dog in my face,” Kevin Kellom said.

Kellom and Terrance’s mother, Nelda, laid out the new evidence in a letter to Worthy that pleads for a new investigation.

“The evidence now before us makes clear that there was no deadly weapon, there were multiple shooters, and there has been a cover-up in order to hide these facts and the multiple constitutional rights violations that took place,” the Kelloms wrote.

“It should be clear as day from the above-listed facts that no real investigation took place in response to the shooting death of our son, Terrance Kellom.”

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office has not committed to any reinvestigation, but did put out a statement Monday saying it’s “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.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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