DETROIT (AP) — A U.S. customs agent fatally shot a 20-year-old Detroit armed robbery suspect in self-defense and will not be charged in the killing, the Wayne County prosecutor said Wednesday.
Terrance Kellom's April 27 death came amid a national debate over police conduct — particularly toward black men. Kellom was black, as is the agent who shot him.
"Yes, black lives matter," prosecutor Kym Worthy said at a news conference. "Of course they matter. But you know what else matters? Credible facts matter. ... Doing justice matters and the truth matters."
Police say Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mitchell Quinn shot Kellom after the suspect lunged at the agent with a hammer during a raid at his father's west side home. His father, Kevin Kellom, has disputed the police account of what happened. Worthy spent much of her news conference citing evidence debunking his claims.
Evidence and witness statements showed Quinn was "justified by the laws of self-defense," Worthy said. She said Kellom was shot four times. He was wanted on armed robbery and weapons charges and was accused in a domestic violence dispute with an ex-girlfriend the day before he was killed.
"It's upsetting, that's my son," Kevin Kellom said of Worthy's decision. "It hurts."
"I was hoping it wouldn't go that way," added Kellom, wearing a T-shirt that read "HANDS UP, NO HAMMER."
"You have young black men being killed by these police officers, and (they are) literally getting away with it. My son was assassinated," he said.
Michigan State Police investigated the shooting. Kellom's lawyer, Karri Mitchell, said there should have been an independent investigation, and that the family will file a civil lawsuit.
Quinn was one of seven law enforcement officers from multiple departments on a fugitive apprehension team. No officers were wearing a body camera, Worthy said.
Speaking Wednesday ahead of Worthy's announcement, Quinn's lawyer David Griem said he had reviewed the reports submitted by the other officers, and that all accounts were consistent.
"I've been doing this for more than 35 years — first 10 as a state, then a federal prosecutor," Griem said. "I have prosecuted police officers, defended police officers. If there was ever a case in which the shooting was justified, this was it."
Afterward, Griem said his client was prepared for a lawsuit and that there would be "no settlement."
Quinn was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting and has since returned to duty, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement.
"The officer involved was fully compliant with the independent investigations into the matter," Walls said.
Some protests in Detroit followed Kellom's shooting, but they were small and peaceful compared to demonstrations that have taken place elsewhere.
The killing of a black, unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer sparked a "Black Lives Matter" movement nationwide, marred by sometimes violent protests.