Michigan State Trooper charged with murder for mowing down a fleeing suspect with his car

Samuel Sterling died after vehicle driven by former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely struck him during April incident which was captured on bodycam video

Michelle Del Rey
Wednesday 05 June 2024 20:17 BST
Police officer runs down fleeing suspect, bodycam footage shows

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

A Former Michigan State Trooper appeared in court on murder charges for allegedly hitting and killing a fleeing suspect with his vehicle during a pursuit.

The fatal incident was all captured on shocking bodyworn camera footage that has been released by Michigan State Police officials.

Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death.

Investigators say that Sterling had been approached by several agencies in Kentwood, Michigan, on 17 April for outstanding felony warrants.

Police said that the suspect ran from them, causing a chase that ended when the vehicle Keely was driving struck him. The man was transported to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries later that day.

Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17. Dash cam video showed the moment the trooper hit the fleeing suspect with his car
Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17. Dash cam video showed the moment the trooper hit the fleeing suspect with his car (Michigan State Police)

Keely was arraigned in court before District Judge Amanda Sterkenburg. The charges were brought against him by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on 28 May.

Ben Crump, the renowned civil rights attorney who is representing Sterling’s family, praised Nessel’s decision and said that the man’s family was “grateful”.

“These charges should serve as a stark warning to law enforcement that their actions have consequences, especially when those actions, which we see all too often, take another life. With each ounce of justice, we move closer to equitable policing and a world with fewer tragedies like the one that ended Samuel’s life,” the attorney said in a statement.

Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17
Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17 (MSP)

Marc Curtis, a defense attorney representing Keely said that the District Attorney’s decision “ignores the facts of the incident” and relies on “political pressure.”

The attorney continued: “This was an accident that could have been avoided had Sterling simply turned himself in prior to the US Marshall’s Task Force being assigned to apprehend him,” he said.

“This accident could have also been avoided if Sterling would have simply complied with the commands of the detectives. Mr Sterling’s action not only put himself in danger but the citizens that were in the area at the time.”

Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17
Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17 (MSP)
Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17
Former State Police Detective Sergeant Brian Keely has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in Samuel Sterling’s death on April 17 (News Channel 3)

Keely retired from the force a day before his arraignment. He was given a personal recognizance bond of $250,000.

Dozens of onlookers were present during proceedings, according to ABC 13.

The judge had asked people to remove themselves from the courtroom if they were feeling “overwhelmed” by “strong emotions,” the outlet reported. At one point, a woman was heard speaking loudly from the gallery and the judge had her removed.

Keely’s probable cause conference hearing date is set for 17 June and his preliminary examination is on 24 June at 2pm.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in