Rally demands Prosecutor Kym Worthy charge Terrance Kellom’s killer(s)
Worthy sealed all reports in case, including autopsy report
Kellom’s children, including newborn daughter, attend rally with family
Family attorney Mitchell calls death “execution without a trial,” says he saw at least one gunshot wound in 19-year-old’s back
Worthy: “waiting for a couple of important items”
Since 2004, Worthy has not charged one Detroit officer for killing civilian
“If anyone kills a person it is as if he kills all mankind.”
By Diane Bukowski
June 19, 2015
DETROIT – Janay Williams, mother of Terrance Kellom’s newborn daughter Terranae and his son Terrance, brought the infants to a rally for their father June 15, 2015. They joined his parents, other family members, and community members in calling for charges to be brought against Terrance’s killer(s).
Kellom did not live to see Terranae’s birth, which he was anxiously awaiting.
During the rally, the family’s attorney Karri Mitchell called the 19-year-old’s death April 25 an “execution without a trial.” It was carried out by a multi-jurisdictional police task force including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent (ICE) Mitchell Quinn, and many Detroit police. The force invaded his father Kevin Kellom’s home without a search warrant and shot the young man multiple times to death in front of his father.
Those attending the rally, organized by Michigan United, Black Lives Matter-Detroit, the Franklin Park Association, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc., and others, demanded to know why Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is taking so long to investigate the case. In a highly unusual move, she has sealed all reports on the case, including the young man’s autopsy report, which is normally public information.
No second autopsy was done in the case as in customary in disputed killings, particularly by police officers.
The Medical Examiner’s office works to support police versions of homicides in some cases.
In 1992, then Deputy Wayne County Executive Mike Duggan (now Detroit “Mayor”) fired forensic pathologist Kalil Jiraki after he reported that Malice Green died of a brutal beating at the hands of Detroit officers Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn, instead of from the results of drug ingestion. Jiraki sued and won $2 million. He has written a book on the events, “Medical examiner under fire : the Malice Green police brutality trial.”
In the case of Aiyana Jones, 7, shot to death by Detroit officer Joseph Weekley in 2010, the Medical Examiner first reported that the entrance wound was in her throat and exit wound at the top of her head, which would have supported Weekley’s version of events. However, the ME changed his report to indicate the entrance wound was at the top of her head and the exit wound in her throat after family attorney Geoffrey Fieger had a second autopsy done showing those results.
Arnetta Grable of the Original Coalition Against Police Brutality said she had contacted Macomb County Medical Examiner Mark Spitz, who had agreed to come to the Trinity Chapel funeral home to do the second autopsy, likely in time for the planned funeral.
However, according to family members, Pastor Curtis Williams, who owns the funeral home, told Mitchell that he would charge much more for the funeral if a second autopsy was done. Mitchell reportedly paid for the funeral.
The Detroit Free Press and the Voice of Detroit filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the autopsy report, but to date they have not been granted. It is questionable whether Worthy has the authority to seal an autopsy report absent a judge’s order.
“I don’t think we’re getting close to anything, they’re not moving fast enough,” Kellom told reporters outside the United Christian Church where the rally took place, around the corner from his home on Evergreen. “I see my son every day. I hear my son call my name every day, as he died on the floor after they shot him. His son asks for him every day when he comes to my house. Why haven’t we seen the autopsy report?”
The younger Kellom died of multiple gunshot wounds, at least one of which was in the back, according to Mitchell. His father witnessed the shooting and has repeatedly denied police claims that his son came at Quinn, who Detroit police have identified as the shooter, with an axe. He said he was brought downstairs with two officers in front of him and two behind him.
Quinn’s attorney David Griem told the media, “He (Mitchell) sees five defendants for a civil lawsuit, and they’re trying to hit the lottery without buying a ticket.”
Kevin Kellom reacted with outrage and sorrow.
“What kind of lottery do you win for someone killing your son in your presence?” Kellom asked. “What kind of lottery is it for the assassination of my son?”
He said he, Kevin’s mother Nelda Kellom, and the rest of his family want no money; they only want their son back.
He added there was no need for the task force to invade his home to arrest his son on an outstanding warrant for armed robbery. Kellom said police had his home under surveillance that day, and saw him walk to a neighborhood gas station with Terrance. On the way back, he said, Terrance stopped in the street to tie his shoes.
“They could have arrested him then,” Kellom said.
Nelda Kellom said, “My son didn’t deserve to be killed the way he was killed,” but said she would be patient until the investigation concludes.
Ron Scott, of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc., said Prosecutor Worthy told him they would “probably have a statement” on the investigation within a week.
He also demanded an end to the use of multi-agency task forces by the Detroit Police Department, like the Fugitive Apprehension Task Force that killed Terrance Kellom. He said they are funded and armed from the federal level on down.
“A lot of people in the community want answers,” he said. “We want oversight and control of federal officers and Detroit Police before they’re standing over you.”
Worthy’s office issued the following statement to other news outlets:
“In all police involved matters handled by the WCPO Public Integrity Unit we first receive the completed findings of the Michigan State Police and then conduct our own independent investigation. Each investigation is unique in terms of the amount of time it takes. Factors to consider are the complexity of the matter, amount of witnesses that must be interviewed, forensic reports that are needed, and other work that must be completed to make an informed decision regarding whether to charge or not to charge. At this point most of the work has been done, but we are waiting for a couple of important items before the review process is completed.”
During the rally, Mitchell denied he told local media, as quoted, that he had no problem with Worthy sealing the autopsy report.
“I said I understood her decision if she wanted to do a full investigation,” Mitchell said. “She has shown in the past that she is willing to charge police officers, as in the case of Officer Weekley.”
In fact, Joseph Weekley, who shot seven-year-old Aiyana Jones to death during a military-style “Special Response Team” raid on her home May 16, 2010, was charged with “involuntary manslaughter” by a one-man grand jury comprised of Third Judicial Circuit Court Criminal Division Chief Judge Timothy Kenny, 17 months after Aiyana’s death.
At the same time, Worthy charged her father, Charles Jones, and “uncle” Chauncey Owens with murder.
After Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charges against Weekley during his third trial, his jury hung on the remaining charge of reckless use of a firearm and he walked scott-free.
Aiyana’s father is serving a sentence of 40-60 years in prison for first-degree murder in the Je’Rean Blake case.
Worthy, who took office in 2004 as the county’s first Black woman prosecutor, has never brought charges against any Detroit police officer in the fatal shooting of a civilian. There have been dozens of cases during her tenure in which police killings, of young Black men in particular, appeared highly questionable, but were ruled “justifiable” by her office.
During the rally June 15, Bobbie Johnson, President of the Franklin Park Association, expressed condolences to Kellom’s family and anger at police tactics and called on Worthy to answer to their community.
“Our community is making a come-back,” Johnson said. “We don’t need a Fugitive Apprehension Task Force coming in here during the afternoon, while little children are coming out of two day-care centers nearby. Why do they feel that in a city full of Black children and Black life they can do this? We ask Kym Worthy to come before the community, and we want a protocol so that this never happens again.”
A Muslim minister quoted the Kuran, “If anyone kills a person it is as if he kills all mankind.” [The police] desecrated the sanctity of human life itself. This was a crime against my family and everyone here as well.”
Elisa Hernandez, from a Latino immigrant advocacy organization, said, “ICE has a really long history of an extensive use of force. They have the FBI at their disposal, and they feel they are above the law. They have executed many others in front of their families.”
Eric Kelly of Michigan United and Black Lives Matter said the rally is only a beginning.
“Black Lives Matter recognizes that we are fighting a racist government,” he said. “Everyday, lawmakers, cops and prosecutors get up planning new ways to attack us.”
He said Black Lives Matter-Detroit meets every Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Trinosothes Café in Eastern Market to plan and mobilize against continuing police brutality in the city.
Gary, of the October 22nd Coalition against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, said, “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people, it is to serve and protect the system and continue the conditions of poverty and degradation most of us face. We do not have to live like this. We will win when Black mothers can have their sons walk out the door without fear of what will happen to them.”
He said charges that were brought against the Baltimore cops who killed Freddie Gray came about only because the people, especially the youth, took to the streets in open rebellion and demanded justice.
The raid on the Kellom home was part of a series of neighborhood raids dubbed “Operation Restore Order” by Detroit police chief James Craig. The latest in the series, sub-titled “Operation Double-Down,” just took place June 18 on the city’s west-side.
On June 15, the Metro Times’ Ryan Felton published an article, “Operation Public Relations,” questioning the efficacy of the raids. He said police have refused to release the names and arrest warrants for more than 1188 people arrested since the first raid in 2013, as well as conviction rates. (See http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/operation-restore-public-relations/Content?oid=2334953&showFullText=true for full article.)
http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/11/warrior-cop-weekley-walks-again-in-aiyana-jones-death/ (One of dozens of stories on the death of Aiyana Jones published in Voice of Detroit, which covered all three of Weekley’s trials as well as the trials of Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Uncle Chauncey Owens. Put “Aiyana” in search engine to find stories.)