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Official Statement - Fatal Officer-Involved Incident in Kentwood

Statement by Col. James F. Grady II, Director

Yesterday, a member of our department was involved in an incident that ended with the loss of life. 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.

As the Director of the Michigan State Police, I want to assure the community that we see you, hear you and will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate the incident. 

A full investigation of yesterday’s incident is underway. The investigation, which is being conducted by investigators from a neighboring MSP district, will be thorough and objective. Our role is to be finders of fact and to compile those facts in an objective manner.

What we know at this time is limited and still subject to change. There is much investigative work yet to be done and I ask that we let the investigation proceed before drawing any conclusions.

Our initial investigation shows that the MSP Sixth District Fugitive Team along with members of the Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids police departments, 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. 

Preliminary reports indicate officers observed Sterling at a gas station at 52nd Street and Eastern Avenue, putting air in a vehicle’s tires, and upon approaching him, he fled on foot. 

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. 

Emergency medical support was summoned to the scene and transported Sterling to the hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries and passed away.  

The MSP member driving the vehicle has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.