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MSP releases video showing unmarked police car hit man running from arrest

MSP Video Release.JPG
Posted at 2:33 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 18:15:08-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. — Michigan State Police released video Friday showing the moments before and after a man was hit by an unmarked police vehicle, resulting in his death.

It happened the morning of April 17, near 52nd Street and Eastern Avenue in the city of Kentwood.

State Police have said the agency's Sixth District Fugitive Team was trying to arrest 25-year-old Samuel Sterling on several outstanding warrants when he ran.

Videos Released in Death of Samuel Sterling

The video released comes from three police agencies: Michigan State Police, the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Wyoming Police Department. It includes three body-worn camera videos and one in-car camera video.

The video shows officers chase Sterling into the parking lot of the Burger King. You can see the unmarked police vehicle hit Sterling and briefly pin him against the exterior wall of the restaurant.

Sterling remained conscious, but audibly moaning in pain.

"Why did you hit me like that?" Sterling can be heard saying.

In the video, you can hear an officer radioing for medical aid less than a minute after Sterling was hit. The Kentwood Fire Department arrived approximately five minutes later.

WARNING: this video shows the moment of impact. Please view with caution.

State Police say the MSP member who was driving the vehicle that hit Sterling was not wearing a body-worn camera due to his assignment on a federal task force. The unmarked vehicle he was driving was not equipped with an in-car camera.

RELATED: FOX 17 obtains surveillance video showing unmarked police car hit man running from arrest

State police say there is more video, but the clips released Friday are the most "relevant and comprehensive." Redactions have been made to hide the identity of undercover officers and unaffiliated individuals.

Samuel Sterling

Sterling's family viewed the video before it was released publicly. FOX 17 sat down with them and their attorney, Ven Johnson, on Friday. They believe Sterling was hit intentionally.

"It's disturbing," Johnson said. "I hope that everybody out there when they watch this video, say a prayer or have a moment of silence for the family and give them some type of strength because I don't even know how they're still sitting here even now."

READ MORE: 'I'm not numb. I'm angry': Family, friends mourn Samuel Sterling at his funeral

The video release comes after the Michigan State Police completed its investigation of the incident, and turned over the report to the Michigan Department of Attorney General.

"...[W]e will continue to be transparent in this investigation and will fully cooperate with the Michigan Department of Attorney General as they begin their review," MSP Director Col. James F. Grady II said in a statement. "The Michigan State Police has a proud tradition of service through excellence, integrity and courtesy, and we intend to uphold that standard."

Read the full MSP statement here.

Attorney General Dana Nessel put out a statement Friday:

“Public integrity is a top priority for my department, which has handled dozens of cases involving police officers. We understand how difficult it is for the family and public to view such disturbing video footage of Mr. Sterling’s death. My office has received the investigative report from the Michigan State Police, and will conduct an extensive evaluation of this matter, balancing the need for the family and public to have their questions answered with our obligation to carefully review all the evidence, facts and applicable law. Whenever possible, we will keep the family apprised of our progress and will make our final determination available when the investigation is complete.”

The MSP member who was driving the unmarked vehicle remains suspended, pending the outcome of the Attorney General's review.

FOX 17 reached out Friday to the attorney representing the suspended MSP member. Marc E. Curtis referred us to his original statement:

"We would like to express to the family and community that we know you are grieving the death of Mr. Sterling. The Trooper involved is heart broken at the loss of Mr. Sterling’s life and wants the family to know that he had no intention of purposely harming Mr. Sterling.

The Trooper has cooperated with the investigation and will continue to cooperate with the investigation as it progresses.

At this time we ask for everyone’s patiences and allow the Michigan State Police and the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a thorough investigation and review of this matter."

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II both put out statements Friday following the conclusion of MSP's investigation.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:

“The death of Samuel Sterling was unacceptable. My heart is with his family and the Grand Rapids community. The state trooper involved is on unpaid suspension. The MSP investigation has been completed and Attorney General Dana Nessel is reviewing to make a final determination on any charges. I have full faith that her office will work quickly to arrive at a fair and just decision as to whether criminal charges are appropriate. In light of video footage showing a departure from MSP protocols and the high standards of the department, my expectation is the State of Michigan will take steps to terminate the trooper’s employment if criminal charges are issued.”

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II:

“Samuel Sterling’s death is an absolute tragedy. The Sterling family and Grand Rapids community deserve answers, accountability, and justice. I hear, see, and feel the incredible pain that people are experiencing right now, along with the trauma this triggers for so many. In my heart, I know that we can build a world where every interaction within our community, especially those with law enforcement, results in a safe outcome for everyone. We must wrap our arms around each other as we continue to work together toward that goal. I want to thank Colonel Grady for showing leadership in tough times, treating this with true professionalism while ensuring a fair and thorough investigation.”

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