Man accused of fatally shooting Detroit police Sgt. Kenneth Steil bound over for trial

Marquise Cromer laughing at officer on the stand during preliminary hearing.
Marquise Cromer laughing at officer on the stand during preliminary hearing.

DETROIT – A man accused of fatally shooting a Detroit police sergeant was in court Tuesday morning for preliminary hearings in three cases.

Marquise Cromer, 21, is charged with the murder of Sgt. Kenneth Steil, who was shot in the shoulder while allegedly pursuing the suspect. He was bound over for trial.

Steil was shot during a pursuit September 12, 2016 and died five days later. He was 46.

Charges of first-degree murder and murder of a peace officer were added after Steil died. Cromer was originally charged with the following:

  • Three count assault with intent to murder
  • One count of resisting and obstructing a police officer causing serious impairment
  • Three counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer
  • One count of possession of a short barreled shotgun
  • Firearms discharge in a building causing injury
  • Felony firearms violations

“Make no mistake about it: the alleged actions of Defendant Cromer led to the tragic death of Sgt. Steil and we will aggressively ensure that justice is done,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.

Cromer was referred for competency and criminal responsibility evaluations and has been found competent. 

Preliminary hearings get underway

The charges against Cromer stem from two different cases: Sgt. Steil's fatal shooting, Cromer's father's shooting, and a carjacking. The first hearing was about the carjacking.

The first and only witness in the first hearing said Cromer shot him at a car wash. 

The victim said he was cleaning his car when Cromer approached him and asked for a ride. The victim refused and Cromer allegedly pulled out a sawed-off shotgun, telling him that he was going to take the car.

The victim said he wasn't given a chance to get out of the vehicle before being shot. He was later able to Cromer from a photo lineup. 

Cromer was bound over for trial.

Second preliminary hearing starts

A Detroit officer that was working with Steil the night of the shooting took the stand.

The officer has been with DPD for two years.

He described the pursuit of the suspect that night and the arrest of Cromer.

Cromer laughed at the officer and gave him a thumbs up as the officer described the arrest saying, “He was screaming like a girl.”

Officer testifies about shooting at gas station

Another Detroit officer took the stand to give testimony about the shooting.

The officer said he saw Steil drop to the ground at the gas station on 7 Mile Road. He watched as Steil was running around the corner before the gunshot was fired.

The shot allegedly came from behind the gas station.

After his testimony, Cromer was bound over for trial.

What happened

According to police, Cromer shot his father at a home in the 2100 block of Dickerson Street just the day before Steil was shot at the gas station on 7 Mile Road.

Sterling Cromer, 62, was shot while he was eating dinner with his wife Sept. 11 at about 5 p.m.

Police said Marquise Cromer went upstairs and came down with a sawed-off shotgun, then shot his father in the foot. While Cromer was trying to reload, the parents were able to escape the home, according to police.

Authorities say Marquise Cromer suffers from depression.

READ: Dad shot during dinner at home in Detroit

Police were searching for Cromer when the Detroit Police Department received a call with information that Cromer was seen in a restaurant in the 15000 block of 7 Mile Road.

Officers saw Cromer run from the restaurant to a Sunoco gas station at 7 Mile Road and Hayes Street. Steil, a 20-year veteran with the department, was pursuing Cromer and when he came around a corner he was shot in the shoulder.

Steil was taken to St. John Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was expected to make a full recovery, but as hospital staff were preparing to send him home, the officer collapsed and suffered a medical issue that killed him.

After the shooting, police say Marquise Cromer tried to hop a fence but was tackled by backup officers. A sawed-off shotgun was recovered during the arrest.

READ: Arrest made in Detroit police sergeant’s shooting at gas station

Police mourn loss of sergeant

Steil’s colleagues said his actions at the gas station illustrate the type of leader he was.

“A cop takes the job seriously,” Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said. “Kenny took it seriously. He went after the bad guy.”

Steil was a member of the department’s underwater recovery team. He was affectionately known as  “Shark.”

“Kenny put his life on the line literally for the city,” Dolunt said. “Unfortunately his wife and two kids don’t have him anymore.”

His family kept him on life support long enough for his organs to be harvested.

Steil leaves behind a wife, JoAnn, and two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Department remembers fallen officer

A visitation was held at Wujek Calcaterra & Sons Funeral home located at 36900 Schoenherr Road in Sterling Heights.

Funeral services were held at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church located 22412 Overlake Street in St. Clair Shores.

Interment was at Resurrection Cemetery at 18201 Clinton River Road in Clinton Township.

Police said donations can be made for Steil's boy's college fund at the Detroit Public Safety Foundation.

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