By Allan Lengel
DETROIT — When Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy last week cleared ICE agent Mitchell Quinn of wrong doing in the fatal shooting in Detroit of Terrance Kellom, she talked about some key evidence including a hole in the attic of the house he was shot in.
Worthy, at a press conference, said that a fugitive task force had entered the home in April looking for Kellom, 20, who was wanted for an armed robbery of a pizza delivery man.
At some point, Worthy said, Kellom dropped through a hole in the attic and came after the agent with a hammer. The agent opened fire and killed him.
Kellom’s dad, Kevin Kellom, insisted all along that his son never dropped through a hole in the ceiling or had a hammer. He said his son was shot without provocation as he was surrendering.
Worthy said that wasn’t the case, and cleared the ICE agent of wrongdoing. She also said evidence showed Kellom’s clothes and body were coated in drywall, insulation and wood from the attic.
After the press conference, the lawyer for the Kellom family, Karri Mitchell, told reporters there was no way an adult could have dropped through the hole in the attic, insisting it was far too small. Therefore, he said, the whole scenario the prosecutor laid out had no credibility.
The lawyer’s claim about the attic hole being too small was likely enough fodder for some to continue doubting the ICE agent’s version of events.
To his credit, LeDuff had a very professional, even-handed interview with the father. He asked him some tough but fair questions. Then LeDuff, as part of his report for “The Americans with Charlie LeDuff,” decided to test whether someone could have actually gone through the hole in the attic.
It’s the kind of real reporting we seldom see any more.
The father encouraged him to try, saying there’s no way that his son, who weighs 110 pounds, could have slipped through the small hole. And he suggested there was no way LeDuff, who weighs 170 pounds, could slip through the hole.
As the camera rolls, LeDuff drops through the hole to the floor below. It was a big moment. (See video below).
LeDuff then asks the father if there’s any way, because he loved his son so much, that he thinks he saw things that didn’t actually happen.
Kevin Kellom says no.
When LeDuff asks if it would have been a bigger story had the ICE agent been white instead of black. Kellom replies:
“If it was a white shooting down my son? Yup, I do (think it would get more attention). I do. I do because – I’m not racist or nothing, but that’s what people look for when you get a killing like that. They look for it to be a white officer killing a black man.
“This wasn’t no white officer. This was a black man killing another black man. That’s what’s hard for me to accept. I’m used to hearing – you see the news – a Caucasian officer shoot down a black man, but when you hear the news about a Caucasian man doing wrong – got a warrant out for his arrest – he always get arrested, don’t he? He don’t get killed.”
At the end of the press conference last week, Worthy, who is black, says:
“Yes, black lives matter. Of course, they matter. But you know what else matters? Credible facts matter.”