Attorney General Files Murder Charges Against Michigan Trooper In Suspect’s Death

Det. Sgt. Brian Keely of the Michigan State Police was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter Tuesday for the death of Samuel Sterling, 25, a Black man who was hit by Keely’s unmarked squad car during a foot chase on April 17. Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said Keely’s actions created a “very high risk of death or great bodily harm” to Sterling.

Body camera footage shows Sterling badly injured and crying out in pain after being struck in a Kentwood fast food parking lot. He died later that day at a hospital. Keely, a 25-year police veteran, has been suspended since the incident which state police voluntarily referred to the attorney general on May 10.

Sterling’s family lawyer argued the video shows Keely used the vehicle as a “deadly weapon” and may have intentionally hit him. But Keely’s attorney said the officer is “broken-hearted” for the family and blamed the charges on “political correctness,” noting criticism from Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) before all evidence was reviewed.

The attorney suggested Sterling could have avoided the “accident” by complying with police. Comparisons were drawn to a white teen, Riley Doggett, being similarly killed by a deputy’s vehicle weeks earlier without charges filed.

Nessel said “public integrity” was a top priority as her office seeks a “thorough and just” resolution. Keely faces up to life in prison if convicted.