Michigan Trooper Charged With Murder in Death of Fleeing Man

The Michigan attorney general charged a state trooper with murder on Tuesday, saying he was “grossly negligent” when he fatally struck a fleeing man, Samuel Sterling, with a vehicle last month in suburban Grand Rapids.

The trooper, Detective Sgt. Brian Keely, was outside a Burger King restaurant in an unmarked police S.U.V. on April 17 as several officers were chasing Mr. Sterling, who was being sought for warrants and was running from the police. As other officers chased Mr. Sterling on foot, video from dash and body cameras showed, Sergeant Keely drove his S.U.V. into Mr. Sterling, appearing to pin him near the wall of the restaurant in Kentwood, a suburb.

The videos show that Mr. Sterling, 25, immediately cried out and complained that he was in pain after being struck. He was taken to a hospital and died.

Police video footage has become far more common over the last decade as departments, responding to pressure from residents, have made body cameras a standard part of an officer’s uniform. As scrutiny of police use of force has grown, it has also become more common for police officers to face criminal charges for on-duty killings, though convictions can remain elusive.

The footage of Mr. Sterling as he was rammed by the State Police vehicle was shocking to many in Michigan. The state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, said in a statement when the video was released that Mr. Sterling’s death was “unacceptable.” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist called for “answers, accountability and justice,” adding that “I hear, see and feel the incredible pain that people are experiencing right now.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel charged Sergeant Keely, 50, with second-degree murder, which can carry a penalty of up to life in prison, and included an alternate charge of involuntary manslaughter, which carries up to a 15-year prison term. No date has been set for his arraignment.

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