Murder Charges: Michigan Cop Shown On Video ‘Running Over’ Black Man Faces Life In Prison

Samuel Sterling police death in Kentwood, Michigan, 4/17/2024

Source: Screenshot / Ben Crump Law

Michigan State Police (MSP) officer has been charged with murder for using his official vehicle as a weapon and “running over” an unarmed Black man last month.

Detective Sgt. Brian Keely was charged on Wednesday with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for the death of Samuel Sterling, 25. Keely faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the second-degree murder charges, Click On Detroit reported.

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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is legally representing Sterling’s family, welcomed the charges while condemning Keely’s “tactics” as being inexcusable.

“We are grateful that the officer responsible for Samuel’s death will answer for his actions that robbed Samuel of his life. There is absolutely no excuse for running over another human being with a vehicle – we are grateful that state leadership in Michigan agrees,” Crump said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “In the video, we can see this officer clearly create a dangerous situation and pursue Samuel using tactics that Michigan Governor Whitmer has stated were a departure from MSP protocol.”

Crump previously posted video footage from the fatal collision when Keely’s police SUV barreled into a Sterling, who was shown running toward a restaurant in the city of Kentwood. Surveillance footage from inside the eatery showed the moment Sterling was struck by Keely’s SUV on April 17.

Sterling died in a hospital from his injuries.


Crump said the murder charges against Keely should put other police officers on notice.

“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,” Crump added. “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.”

What happened to Samuel Sterling?

According to a press release sent to NewsOne, Sterling fled after multiple officers approached him late on the morning of April 17. Sterling was struck while running to a nearby fast-food restaurant. He was later pronounced dead in a local hospital.

Notably, there have not been any reports of Sterling being armed or posing a physical threat to the officers involved. The video of the fatal collision shows that Sterling was struck from behind.

Sterling’s death certificate lists the manner of death as an “accident,” a characterization previously disputed by Crump.

Wood TV obtained a copy of Sterling’s death certificate, which also determined that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries” via a “pedestrian struck by a vehicle.”

According to the police narrative, Sterling “was wanted on multiple warrants” and began running when officers approached him at a gas station.

“Several officers pursued him on foot while one MSP officer in an unmarked vehicle drove parallel to him,” Col. James F. Grady II, MSP Director, said in a statement. “They ended up converging in the parking lot of Burger King on Eastern Avenue, where the vehicle driven by the MSP member struck Sterling.”

Grady noted in particular that “an African American male and a father, it’s not lost on me that this is the death of another young African American male following an interaction with police.”

Cops using police vehicles as weapons

Sterling’s death after being struck by a police vehicle was the second time in as many months that an unarmed Black male was killed in such a manner.

It was also the second time in as many weeks that a Michigan police officer used a department vehicle to strike a suspect.

Also in April, Riley Doggett, 17, was struck by a vehicle driven by Kent County sheriff’s deputies during a brief chase. Doggett, who is white, suffered serious injuries from the incident.

And in March in Mississippi, Kadarius Smith, also 17, died after an unidentified officer with the Leland Police Department struck the teen as he and his friends were allegedly running away from a nearby home.

Smith’s mother has claimed her son was run over from behind as evidenced by tire tracks that were visible on his back.

Similar to Sterling, Smith was ultimately pronounced dead at a local hospital following being struck by the police car.

Sterling lived in Grand Rapids, which was sued in 2022 for the local police department’s alleged culture of unchecked racism and discrimination against Black people.

That lawsuit was sparked after Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, was shot in the back of his head at close range during a traffic stop following a brief struggle with since-fired Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr.

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The post Murder Charges: Michigan Cop Shown On Video ‘Running Over’ Black Man Faces Life In Prison appeared first on NewsOne.

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