Michigan detective charged for killing black suspect with vehicle, deputy who killed white suspect walks

Screaming social justice, Michigan’s stained glass ceiling-breaking attorney general announced charges in one of two strikingly similar fatal police collisions.

(Video: WOOD-TV)

On April 17 in Kentwood, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan State Police were attempting to apprehend 25-year-old Samuel Sterling who was wanted on several undisclosed felony warrants. As the probation absconder fled on foot, a chase ensued that ended with MSP Det. Sgt. Brian Keely, 50, fatally striking the suspect with his vehicle.

Tuesday, Michigan’s openly lesbian Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) released a statement that declared, “Det. Sgt. Keely’s actions that day were legally, grossly negligent and created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm, which could have otherwise been prevented.”

As a result, the 25-year veteran now faced one count of second-degree murder and the potential of life in prison or one count of involuntary manslaughter that could result in a 15-year sentence.

“A number of MSP troopers and other local law enforcement agents proceeded to chase Mr. Sterling, both in their vehicles and by foot, when the vehicle Det. Sgt Keely was driving turned and struck Mr. Sterling in a nearby fast food restaurant parking lot,” said Nessel in describing the incident as she listed the felony charges, “Public integrity is a top priority and my department remains dedicated to providing a thorough and just review and resolution in each case brought before us.”

As it happened, WOOD-TV reported that Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker had decided against filing charges against the Kent County sheriff’s deputy after footage showed him similarly attempting to cut off the path of 17-year-old Riley Doggett, alleged to have been fleeing after participating in the theft of a Range Rover.

The family of the white teenager who succumbed to his injuries after weeks in the hospital was represented by the same attorney, Ven Johnson, representing the family of Sterling, who happened to be black.

Johnson, who intended to seek Nessel’s review of the case, marked the similarities as he told WOOD-TV, “Missing from Riley’s case is a Burger King right there. But both cars made an immediate right turn right into the path of a pedestrian; admittedly running away, understandably. But that is deadly force. A car is a deadly weapon under this scenario and… this was not a deadly force situation in either one.”

Meanwhile, Keely’s attorney Marc Curtis defended his client and called out the state’s top cop, “It is unfortunate that in this time of political correctness, Michigan’s attorney general has chosen to ignore the facts of this incident and rely on political pressure.”

“It is also unfortunate that our governor, without having seen or heard all the evidence in the case, chose to interject her opinion and side against law enforcement in this matter,” he continued noting how Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had called the death of Sterling “unacceptable” and critiqued Keely’s actions as a “departure” from police procedure.

“However, this was an accident that could have been avoided had Mr. Sterling simply turned himself in prior to the U.S. Marshall’s Task Force being assigned to apprehend him,” the defense attorney argued. “This accident could have also been avoided if Mr. Sterling would have simply complied with the commands of the detectives. Mr. Sterling’s actions not only put himself in danger but the citizens that were in the area at the time.”

The timing of the charges was mere days after the four-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd who died in police custody. It had some suggesting that “They’re really trying for a George Floyd 2.0 event for the elections.”

Kevin Haggerty

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