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Prosecutor rules Trooper justified in using deadly force

Prosecutor rules Trooper justified in using deadly force
Travis Quay was killed by police in October after he shot an officer with a crossbow during an arrest.

Travis Quay was killed by police in October after he shot an officer with a crossbow during an arrest.

Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause ruled on Tuesday that the Michigan State Police Trooper who fatally shot a suspect, after the suspect shot another police officer with a crossbow, was justified in using deadly force.

On Friday October 9, Travis Lee Quay, 40, was shot and killed by Trooper Timothy Moreno, of the Michigan State Police, after Quay shot at officers with a cross bow, striking Montcalm County Deputy Michael Kotenko, while they were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for felonious assault on Quay at 8072 Townline Lake Rd., in Lakeview.

Krause said that in order to reach a legal opinion, she reviewed multiple reports from the Michigan State Police, Lakeview Police Department, Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, an interview with Deputy Kotenko, the Montcalm County Medical examiner, crime scene photos, 911 dispatch recordings, a search warrant and two MSP Lab reports.

Krause explained the sequence of events:

The incident began when Troopers from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post investigated a felonious assault incident during the day on October 9, which occurred at the above address. The complainant in that incident, Timothy Schultz, reported that his neighbor, Travis Quay, accused him and his son, Kevin Schultz, of stealing his marihuana. Quay reportedly held Timothy at knife point. Timothy’s adult son, Levi Schultz, reported to troopers that he went to Quay’s residence to talk about the incident when Quay stabbed him in the arm with a pitchfork. Troopers attempted to contact Quay at his residence and were unsuccessful.  Troopers obtained a felony arrest warrant for Quay and entered Quay’s home but were unable to locate him.  They cleared the scene and requested Timothy to contact them if he saw Quay return home. That investigation is documented in MSP Lakeview Incident 64-7574-15.

Montcalm County Central Dispatch contacted Trooper Moreno on October 9 at approximately 11:15 p.m. and informed him that Travis Quay was home. Dispatch told Tpr. Moreno that the neighbor contacted them and provided the information. Dispatch briefed Tpr. Moreno of the earlier incident and the fact that Quay had a two-count felony warrant for his arrest.  Tpr. Moreno met with Deputies Kotenko and Wierda from the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, and Officer Mack from the Lakeview Police Department at the Wesco in Lakeview. At that time they discussed the situation and then the four of them responded to Quay’s residence.

Tpr. Moreno and Deputy Kotenko went to the front door (west side) of the trailer home. Tpr. Moreno knocked on the door and Quay’s wife, Michelle Quay, answered. Tpr. Moreno advised Michelle that there was a felony arrest warrant for Quay. She told him that Quay was not home.  Tpr. Moreno made entry into the home with Deputy Kotenko entering behind him.  Under current law the police are legally justified to make entry into a residence when they have an arrest warrant.  Tpr. Moreno was to clear the left side of the residence as they entered while Deputy Kotenko was going to clear the right side of the residence.  As Tpr. Moreno entered the residence, he yelled out for Quay. Travis Quay was in the southwest corner of the kitchen (south or right side of the entry door) armed with a crossbow.  Tpr. Moreno was the first to spot Quay, as Kotenko was not fully inside yet.

As Tpr. Moreno saw Quay, and saw a large bow aimed at him, he ordered Quay to drop it as he started to reach for his firearm.  Deputy Kotenko was just inside now and starting his sweep of the right side when a loud thud was heard by Tpr. Moreno.  He knew Quay had fired but was not sure if he was hit, or another officer, or if it hit a wall.  Tpr. Moreno then heard a loud yell of pain come from Deputy Kotenko.  Quay had shot a crossbow bolt with a triple fixed blade broadhead, which struck Deputy Kotenko in his right side below his right arm and the arrow lodged in him.  In fear for his life and the life of the other officers on scene Tpr. Moreno returned fire at Quay.  Tpr. Moreno fired three shots in Quay’s direction, with one round hitting Quay in the upper left chest. Quay went to the floor face first, where Tpr. Moreno placed his hands in handcuffs behind his back. Three fired cartridge casings were found at the scene. Two fired bullets were found on the floor near Quay and one fired bullet was removed from Quay during the autopsy.

Quay was pronounced deceased at the scene by medical personnel at 12:54 a.m.  Deputy Kotenko was transported to Spectrum Butterworth by Aero med, where he underwent surgery to remove the crossbow bolt.

Other information gathered by the police includes that Quay, earlier that night, had made statements to others that he would not go back to jail.  He also specifically brought the crossbow back to his house that night from a friend’s house.  Another cross bow bolt with a broadhead tip and empty quiver were observed in close proximity to Quay on the southeast side of the kitchen.  A compound bow which had an arrow with broadhead nocked was located north of the entry door.  An open bow case was observed on the bed in the north bedroom.  An aluminum softball bat was found near the countertop/bar between the kitchen and living room east of the entry door.  Additionally, three paper bags of marihuana were also found in the living room.

The autopsy report listed the cause of death of Travis Quay as a gunshot wound of the chest. Toxicology reports listed his ethanol level as high as 0.19. He also tested positive for marihuana.

“As is the case in any fatal shooting, it is important to emphasize the purpose of this review.  It is not to determine whether the police officers could have or might have done something differently.  It is not whether, with the full benefit of hindsight, this tragic death could have been avoided.  Rather, the sole question to be answered is whether the death of Travis Quay was the result of a criminal act,” explained Krause.

“Based upon a review of the facts and the law, it is clear that Travis Quay presented an immediate danger of death or great bodily harm to Trooper Moreno, Deputy Kotenko and the other officers at the scene. As such, Trooper Moreno acted properly in self-defense.

“Trooper Moreno told Quay to drop the weapon. Instead of being arrested on the warrant, Quay fired at officers, striking Deputy Kotenko in his side with a crossbow bolt. Trooper Moreno, fearing for his own life and that of the other officers, fired three rounds in the direction of Quay.  One round struck him in the upper left chest, killing him. Under these circumstances, Trooper Moreno was justified in using deadly force against what would be perceived by any reasonable person as an imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.”

Trooper Timothy Moreno is a three year veteran with the Michigan State Police, and he is a lieutenant in the National Guard.

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One Response to “Prosecutor rules Trooper justified in using deadly force”

  1. G.E. Corwin says:

    Job well done, Trooper Moreno.

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