The Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant facing murder and manslaughter charges from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is one of five MSP officers decorated for bravery for their handling of a hostage incident in 2016.

Nessel charged MSP Detective Sergeant Brian Keely of Grand Rapids with second-degree murder or, alternatively, involuntary manslaughter on May 28. The first charge could result in a life sentence, and the manslaughter charge is a 15-year felony.

Keely’s career included taking a bullet while fortunately wearing a Kevlar vest during a 2015 hostage situation, for which he and four other officers received MSP Bravery Awards in 2016 for “diligence and perseverance under uncommon circumstances and for going beyond what is typically expected of most law enforcement officers.”

The awards were given to troopers and members of the MSP Emergency Response Team for their actions following a man’s abduction of his ex-wife and holding her hostage in a hotel room. The officers entered the room after hearing a gunshot and screaming. The husband fired at the officers and was met by return fire, which struck and killed him. The man’s ex-wife was able to escape with a wound on her arm.

The charges brought by Nessel’s office stem from an incident on April 17, 2024, when Keely was a member of the MSP Sixth District Fugitive Task Force. Members of the task force were attempting to apprehend 25-year-old Samuel Sterling, a fugitive with multiple warrants, who was fleeing on foot in a fast food parking lot. Keely, a 25-year MSP veteran, turned his unmarked vehicle and struck Sterling, who later died of injuries the a Kentwood resident suffered during the incident.

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The MSP referred the incident to Nessel‘s office for review on May 10.

In a video on May 28, Nessel stated her office conducted a “comprehensive review of the evidence” before drawing the conclusion “Detective Sergeant 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.”

The AG continued: “Public integrity is a top priority for my Department and we remain committed to providing a thorough and just review and resolution in each case brought before us.”

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D/Sgt Keely will be arraigned in the 62-B District Court in Kentwood, the arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

“Yesterday, a member of our department was involved in an incident that ended with the loss of life,” Col. James F. Grady II, MSP director said in a statement released the day after the April 17 incident. “As 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.”

Keely was suspended during the MSP investigation, and has since retired.

“Our initial investigation shows that the MSP Sixth District Fugitive Team along with members of the Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids police departments,” Grady said. “Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and U.S. Marshals Service, were working a fugitive arrest operation in Kentwood yesterday in an attempt to locate and arrest Samuel Sterling, who was wanted on multiple warrants.”

Grady noted that law enforcement officers observed Sterling putting air in a vehicle’s tires at a gas station located at 52nd Street and Eastern Avenue. Sterling fled on foot when approached by the officers.

“Several officers pursued him on foot, while one MSP officer in an unmarked vehicle drove parallel to him. 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 said.