Michigan State Trooper charged with murder after stopping a fleeing suspect with his patrol car

LANSING, MI - Michigan State Police (MSP) Sgt. Brian Keely has been charged with murder.

The announcement came on Tuesday from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel following an investigation into an incident on April 17 where Keely hit a fleeing suspect with his patrol car. The suspect later died at an area hospital.

According to WOOD-TV, Keely was working with members of a crime task force when they located Samuel Sterling. Sterling was a probation absconder wanted on felony warrants. Police said that when they approached Sterling, he fled on foot. As police pursued on foot into a nearby fast-food restaurant, Keely joined in his unmarked patrol car.

MSP released body camera footage that shows Sterling fleeing before being hit by Keely’s vehicle on a sidewalk leading to the restaurant.

“My office has reviewed multiple police reports from other officers on the scene, read the accident reconstruction report and autopsy, as well as watched bodycam footage and surveillance videos from neighboring businesses prior to completing our investigation. We have found that Detective Sgt. Keely’s actions that day were legally grossly negligent and created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm which could have otherwise been prevented,” Attorney General Nessel said in a video on social media.

Keely’s attorney, Marc Curtis, released his own statement on Tuesday suggesting that the charges are politically motivated and saying that he is prepared to fight in court.

“It is unfortunate that in this time of political correctness, Michigan’s Attorney General has chosen to ignore the facts of this incident and rely on political pressure. It is also unfortunate that our Governor, without having seen or heard all of the evidence in the case, chose to interject her opinion and side against law enforcement in his matter,” Curtis said.

His statement continued, “However, this was an accident that could have been avoided had Mr. Sterling simply turned himself in prior to the U.S. Marshall’s Task Force being assigned to apprehend him. This accident could have also been avoided if Mr. 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 that area at the time.”

Sterling’s mother Andrica Cage said that she is encouraged to learn of the AG’s charges against Keely and she now has her eyes on a conviction. “We still gotta fight. It’s still a long journey from now. I’m just going to let God handle it, because he knows better than I do,” Cage said.

Keely is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree murder. He has been suspended by MSP and Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer has called for his firing.

“Keely is a highly trained and decorated Trooper, a 25-year veteran of the Michigan State Police. He was assigned to the Emergency Support Team for 10 years where he was given an award for Bravery and Life Saving actions when he was shot in the chest while rescuing a hostage from being killed,” Keely’s attorney said. “D/Sgt/ Keely has been assigned to the U.S. Marshall’s Task Force for several years, making hundreds of arrests without incident. D/Sgt. Keely has over 12 years’ experience of safely operating police vehicles without a single at fault accident in the performance of his duties.”

No arraignment date has been set. If convicted, Keely could face life in prison.

The medical examiner ruled Sterling's death an accident by "multiple blunt force traumas."
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