Prosecutor says no evidence federal court asked for release of informant

By Corey Williams
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - A prosecutor said last Thursday that his office has found no evidence that a federal agency asked a judge to release a police informant months before he was charged in two Detroit-area slayings and named a suspect in at least four others.

A U.S. District Court spokesman told The Detroit News last week that Kenyel Brown, 40, was released "at the behest of a federal law enforcement agency." The agency was not named.

Last Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said his office would work to get to the bottom of the matter.

"It has been reported that the federal court released Kenyel Brown from custody at the behest, demand, or request of a federal law enforcement agency," Schneider said last Thursday in a statement. "While our review of this matter is in the very early stages, I have seen nothing that shows that any law enforcement agency asked the federal court to release Brown or to keep him out of custody."

Brown remained in critical condition last Thursday after shooting himself in the head last Monday while fleeing police in Oak Park, just north of Detroit.

He was charged Feb. 4 in the fatal shootings of two people and wounding of a third two days earlier in River Rouge, southwest of Detroit. He also is suspected in a Jan. 8 slaying in River Rouge, a Feb. 18 slaying in Highland Park, and separate slayings on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 in Detroit, as well as two carjackings in Detroit on Feb. 21.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has said Brown should not have been on the streets when the victims were killed.

Brown was paroled in 2010 after serving time in state prison for fleeing police and being a habitual offender. He also entered plea deals in about a half-dozen cases from 1997 to 2000, according to The Detroit News, which cited court records.

In 2015, Brown was sentenced on a federal gun charge.

Brown served more time in prison but was out by 2017 and under supervised release. Court records show that during his release, he violated probation multiple times. He was arrested at least twice last year.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman told Brown at an Oct. 29 probation violation hearing that "You've got to stop doing this," the Detroit News reported last Thursday from a transcript of the hearing.

"I'm going to give you a break," Friedman added.

Craig told reporters last Wednesday that Brown had been an informant for the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives up until Oct. 29. That same day he was signed on as a paid informant for a joint Detroit police-federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force.

Craig said the task force was not aware at the time that Brown had numerous probation violations while under federal supervised release from prison.

He was deactivated as an informant on Feb. 3, when Detroit police learned he was a suspect in the River Rouge slayings, Craig said.

"When we vetted Mr. Brown, we didn't know about his violations," he added. "We would not have wanted to work with this individual."

Money and drugs appear to be connected to the recent slayings and carjackings, Craig said.

Published: Mon, Mar 02, 2020