ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. — Detroit’s police chief on Friday posthumously promoted a 20-year veteran officer who died five days after being shot while chasing a suspect.
Police Chief James Craig announced the promotion of Sgt. Ken Steil to captain at the end of his funeral Friday at a suburban church. The announcement drew a standing ovation at the packed service.
Craig presented a plaque to Steil’s wife, Joann, and their two young sons.
“This is a difficult day for me,” Craig said during the service. “It’s never easy saying goodbye. We all love Kenneth Steil.”
Steil was nicknamed “Shark” for his diving skills. He was shot in the shoulder and died last Saturday of a blood clot. Marquise Cromer, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and was arraigned on Wednesday.
Steil’s death was unexpected. Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan had talked to him during visits to his hospital room and described him as “upbeat” and “looking forward to going home.”
Steil referred to a full recovery in a thank-you note written a few days before his death.
“My heart just broke” after learning about Steil’s death, Duggan said.
George Brikho told The Detroit News that Steil, his brother-in-law, loved helping people and working for Detroit.
“We (told) him many times … you did your time. You have children now. Take a desk job. Take an easy job,” Brikho said. “He said, ‘No, I can’t do that to my guys. I want to be able to defend them if something bad happened.'”
Gov. Rick Snyder ordered U.S. and Michigan flags lowered to half-staff Friday in Steil’s honor.
Cromer’s attorney, Sanford Schulman, told The Associated Press he met with Cromer Friday at the Wayne County Jail. Schulman said Cromer has a history of mental illness and is “overwhelmed” but acknowledges “it’s a difficult day.” Schulman added that Cromer’s family has expressed its “sincere sympathy” for Steil’s family.
A state trooper heading to the funeral was injured when a vehicle struck his motorcycle on a freeway. Officials said the trooper, Ali Hammoud, suffered broken ribs and a collarbone following a “road rage incident” involving two motorists. Authorities are searching for the driver responsible.