Fed. court hearing May 2 follows DPD off. Darrel Fitzgerald’s admission that Terrance had no hammer, none was in house; did not resist arrest
“He (Fitzgerald) had a tear in his eye during deposition, likely thinking of his own 20-year son”–Atty. Ayad in brief
Forensic evidence negates police version of killing, indicates more than one shooter: shell casings of different kinds found in rear bedroom, bathroom
Terrance Kellom shot in back twice, evidence and eyewitness reports indicated Off. Quinn shot him as he lay on ground
Father Kevin: police saw his son with him in the street before illegally raiding home; they could have arrested him on street.
Federal court hearings continue as State AG Dana Nessel, Wayne Co. Pros.Kym Worthy open new investigations
Ayad: “If Kym Worthy doesn’t do her job this time, we will do it for her.”
By Diane Bukowski
May 10, 2019/Updated May 13, 2019
DETROIT – Family and friends of Terrance Kellom, including his two little children Terrance Desmond and Terranae Destiny, packed the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox May 2 to listen to oral arguments on defense motions to dismiss the family’s civil lawsuit filed after the young father’s death.
The family had watched in agony April 27, 2015 as members of a Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Task Force (D-FAT) including I.C.E., the DPD, and other out-county agencies, shot Kellom a total of four times inside his father Kevin Kellom’s home on Detroit’s near northwest side. Evidence shows I.C.E. agent Mitchell Quinn shot him in back as he lay on the ground.
An additional fusillade of other bullets left spent casings scattered through the home.
Kellom was 19 years old, with a pending arrest warrant for armed robbery. He was also expecting the imminent birth of his second child. and was planning to turn his life around, according to his father.
After the court hearing May 2, family and friends gathered outside and chanted, “Justice for Terrance,” echoing the cry raised in massive street protests, largely by Black youth, that took place directly after Kellom’s death.
Judge Cox held the hearing in the wake of the stunning disclosure April 8 by the family’s attorney Nabih Ayad that Detroit Police Officer Darell Fitzgerald changed his earlier version of events and said in a sworn deposition Nov. 26, 2018 that the young father was in custody, unarmed, with no hammer in his hand when he was killed, and that he buckled to his knees after the first shot before a fusillade of bullets struck him. Fitzgerald is a defendant in the lawsuit and headed the DPD section of the task force. Pros. Kym Worthy earlier showed a photo of a hammer at a press conference, admitted it had no fingerprints, but refused to issue charges against I.C.E. agent Mitchell Quinn due to “insufficient evidence.”
“Defendant Fitzgerald blew the lid off this cover-up,” Ayad wrote in his response to the defendants’ motions.
“As every practicing attorney would know, it is not every day that law enforcement have the courage to come forward and speak the truth as to what transpired in a situation like this. As anyone with common sense can see, it is clear what could happen to this individual in his everyday employment with the department. E.g., isolation, stigma, harassment, hostility and possibly even violence.”
Ayad alleged that the officers on the D-FAT team and their superiors conspired to cover up the true circumstances of Terrance’s death.
The defendants claimed depositions given by family eyewitnesses were contradictory and unbelievable. Defendant Quinn said he entered the home due to “exigent circumstances,” after hearing from officers inside that the younger Kellom was “belligerent” when they attempted to arrest him. Ayad said in his brief that Quinn assumed it was OK to enter when he saw Defendant Fitzgerald inside. However, one account of what happened said that Quinn along with his parter Eaton and Fitzgerald were all outside the house prior to entry.
“Here, a defendant who is being sued for wrongful death of an individual changes his story and admits the decedent was unarmed when shot,” Ayad continued. “If Terrance Kellom was unarmed, there was excessive force used . . . All of Defendants should be thanking their lucky stars that they are not being criminally charged and put in jail at this time for conspiring to cover up the unlawful killing of an unarmed African-American young man.”
The D-FAT team killed Kellom as a rebellion was erupting in Baltimore over the police killing of Freddie Gray, and Black Lives Matter marches were taking place all over the country.
Ayad additionally cited a report by Firearms Examiner and Forensic Science Consultant David Balash indicating that bullets from more than one shooter, not just Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) officer Mitchell Quinn, likely entered Kellom’s body from four different directions, including two from the rear which landed in his back and leg. Balash cited other forensic evidence contradicting the police version.
“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 other members of the arrest warrant entry team told the investigators what happened rather than having the evidence drive the investigation,” Balash said.
Ayad and his partner Atty. William Savage said State Police Officer Richard Sanchez, handling his first criminal investigation, did not interview any of the officers involved. Neither did members of the Prosecutor’s office. Sanchez was situated at DPD headquarters while the investigation proceeded, and was officially embedded in the DPD homicide unit for the duration.
After Ayad’s April 8 disclosure, both Worthy and State Attorney General Dana Nessel said they would re-open their offices’ investigations into Kellom’s death. No further word from them has been heard.
Ayad said after the hearing, “If Kym Worthy doesn’t do her job this time, we will do it for her.”
The May 2 hearing itself was brief, with Judge Cox indicating that he had already thoroughly studied the filings in the case. (See box at top left for description of Plaintiffs’ Claims and Defendants’ motions.)
In addition to his First Amended Complaint, Ayad submitted a powerful brief in response to defendants’ motions. (See FAC and brief links below story.)
He attached depositions including those from Darell Fitzgerald, in which Fitzgerald denied that Terrance had a hammer and said he saw no hammer in the home, from Kevin Kellom and other family eyewitnesses who completely contradicted the police version of events, from I.C.E. agent Quinn, who alleged he could not remember how he got to the scene or what he was wearing, from state investigator Richard Sanchez, and the report from Balash. Many of the public copies of those depositions kept in the federal court for inspection were substantially redacted.
Regarding Quinn’s motion for summary judgment, Cox said the dispute between family eyewitnesses who reported police surrounded Kellom as they walked him down the stairs from an upstairs bedroom, and police reports claiming he jumped through a hole in that bedroom’s closet to the first floor was not as relevant as “what occurred while Terrance was in the [downstairs] hallway.”
“What would you give if Terrance Kellom was not resisting, had no weapons, and had his hands up?” Cox asked the defendants. At one point, he interjected during Atty. Ayad’s arguments claiming excessive force, “You’re winning.” He also cited Kevin Kellom’s testimony in his deposition, asking if defendants were writing that off.
He asked what evidence was present that Quinn was going to shoot, and how defendants could have prevented the shooting, including obtaining a search warrant. A warrant to search the father’s home was not signed until three hours after Terrance’s death. According to depositions from family members, Teria Kellom, Terrance’s sister, had to demand to see even the arrest warrant for Terrance, which alleged he had held up a pizza delivery man.
“Upon further inquiry, Officer Fitzgerald changed his story again regarding an arrest warrant, confirming that he never showed any warrant to anyone, because he was going to show the arrest warrant to Mr. Kellom only after the house was ‘clear’ but before that could happen, other officers had apparently made their way into the attic where they began shouting at Terrance Kellom,” Attorney Ayad wrote in his brief in response to Quinn’s motion for summary disposition on the case.
Ayad added that the defendants had deliberately taken a statement from a police interview with Kevin Kellom after the traumatic death of his son out of context.
“Defendant Quinn argues that Kevin Kellom consented to officer’s entering his home, and ‘supports’ this argument by quoting two partial-statements to purposefully take them out of context,” Ayad wrote.
“On the very day of his son’s killing while still emotionally shaken, Kevin Kellom was interviewed by police and stated the following in regard to the encounter he had through his screen door with officers standing on his porch:
A. And he said, “Open your door.” I said, “Open my door for what?” I said, “What’s the problem?” I said, “I didn’t call the police.” And the other guy said, Open the motherfucking door or I’m going to tear it down.” I opened the door and I let them in. I ain’t got nothing to hide from the police. I let them in . . .”
The defendants argued that there was evidence the younger Kellom lived at his father’s home, whereas Atty. Ayad said the D-FAT team went to three different addresses before going to the father’s home. He said none of Terrance’s official ID’s and other documents used his father’s address. A search warrant for the father’s home was not obtained until three hours after Terrance’s death.
In his report, forensics investigator Balash said, “Mr. Kellom suffered four (4) bullet strikes and all four are from different angles as well as directions. . . .[cites GSW’s from autopsy report]. Agent Quinn stated that Mr. Kellom charged at him and that he fired while retreating and falling with Mr. Kellom falling toward him (facedown) on the floor. The evidence and the account of the shooting do not correlate.”
Balash said fired cartridge casings were found in the hallway, bathroom and on one of the closet shelves. In his deposition, Kevin Kellom said he saw three officers go into the bathroom and the two rear bedrooms before his son was killed. The police version indicated only Quinn shot Kellom while standing in front of him. Fitzgerald, who was holding Terrance, said he moved to the side when Quinn began shooting.
Balash said “GSW wound #3 was located in the back of Mr. Kellom with the bullet partially exited his right chest wall . . .something prevented this bullet from fully exiting the body.” Family members Kevin and Teria Kellom reported seeing Quinn stand over their fallen loved one, possibly with his boot on his back, and shooting him in the back as he lay on the floor. Officers handcuffed Kellom after the fusillade of shots ended.
Noting the poor quality of crime scene photographs, Balash reported there was no photograph of the uncovered floor area under which Terrance allegedly laid after being shot. (Note photo to right shows area with evidence markings is covered by what appears to be a black article of clothing.)
MSP personnel had noted a gouge in the floor there. Balash said a fired bullet was recovered next to Kellom. He said the counter number #8 (seen in photo at right) was assigned to two pieces of evidence, including a bullet hole in the floor beneath Kellom’s body, which disappeared in subsequent police reports and was converted to a shell casing.
He added he did not “note any testing of the involved officer (Quinn’s) weapon for either confirmation that he was the only shooter or for the ejection pattern of his weapon. The dispersal of the fired cartridge cases at the scene should have required that testing.”
Below is a quote from the medical examiner’s autopsy regarding GSW #3:
In his answer to the Quinn motion to dismiss, Ayad additionally says that MSP Investigator Richard Sanchez could not answer questions about why the third bullet did not completely exit Kellom’s body and says eyewitnesses confirmed the circumstances:
A photo of the bullet which partially exited Terrance’s back before it impacted a hard surface, likely the floor after Terrance fell face down after being shot initially, is included in Ayad’s ongoing explanation of GSW #3, taken from his continuing deposition of Investigator Sanchez.
After the hearing, Judge Cox said he would issue rulings on the defendants’ three motions but did not give a time frame.
Below is interview with Kevin Kellom about his son, before massive march April 28, against Terrance’s execution that took over the streets of Joy Road for hours, as Detroit police hovered nervously around, worried that it would erupt into another Baltimore rebellion.
TKellom First Amended Complaint, by Atty. Nabih Ayad:
Part I and II of Atty Ayad’s response to motion for summary disposition:
Forensic consultant David Balash report
Above: Members of P.O.S.T., including Kevin Kellom at left, call for Pros. Kym Worthy to step down March 22, 2017. Kellom has never stopped fighting for his beloved son.
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