MSP sergeant charged in death of Samuel Sterling retires

MSP Det Sgt Brian Keely.png
Posted at 9:56 AM, Jun 04, 2024

KENTWOOD, Mich. — The Michigan State Police sergeant charged with murder after hitting a wanted man with his vehicle has retired.

Det/Sgt. Brian Keely resigned from Michigan State Police days after being charged by the Michigan Attorney General in the death of Samuel Sterling. A spokesperson for Michigan State Police confirmed Keely's retirement with FOX 17.

Samuel Sterling and D/Sgt. Brian Keely
Samuel Sterling (left), MSP Detective Sergeant Brian Keely (right)

Lewis Langham, professor emeritus at Cooley Law School, says the fact that Brian Keely has been charged with murder has no effect on him being eligible for retirement because he earned it prior to being charged.

“He earned that pension prior to the actions taking place. So more than likely, whatever the outcome of this trial is, it shouldn't have any effect on his pension,“ said Langham.

Keely faces charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The former officer was part of a fugitive task force that was tracking down Sterling for a number of outstanding warrants.

Keely was behind the wheel of an unmarked vehicle that hit Sterling in the parking lot of the Burger King near 52nd Street and Eastern Avenue in Kentwood on April 17.

State police released video of the incident on May 10. There is no video of the impact from Keely's perspective. Because he was working as part of a federal task force, he was not wearing a body camera and his vehicle was not equipped with a dash camera.

“Since the matter doesn't involve any type of embezzlement or fraud-related issues, the state of Michigan probably won't step in or don't have the authority to step in and do anything under most circumstances,” said Langham.

He says Keely’s retirement should have no effect on his criminal case and that he thinks the decision was probably for financial reasons, saying, “If he retires, the clock starts ticking administratively to get the pension started. And he doesn't have to rely upon being off work not receiving any type of benefits whatsoever as it relates to a paycheck.”


Videos Released in Death of Samuel Sterling

After an investigation by a separate division of state police, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reviewed the report and issued charges on May 28.

Keely is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in Kentwood District Court. Langham says Keely’s pension should start 30 days after he applied for retirement.

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