On July 23, 2013, Detroit Police Officer William Zeolla told police that he found his girlfriend Angela Kolhagen's lifeless body in his backyard. According to Zeolla, while he was home, Angela took his service gun and went outside and shot herself. Zeolla then carried her body to the front yard - thus disturbing the possible crime scene.
All sucides are supposed to be treated like homicides - and it isn't until homicide can be outruled that a death is considered a sucide. In Angie's case, it appears that it was quickly decided that she had committed suicide because that's what Officer Zeolla said. End of story. Case closed.
Angie was so unimportant to the Detroit PD, that they did not release her name. After several days of OIDV specialists tracking down info on the victim, we came up with not only Angie's name but the name of her boyfriend: Officer William Zeolla.
More searching by our OIDV group on the mysterous Officer Zeolla and we discovered why the Detroit PD and his family and friends were protective of his identity: Zeolla has a long history of police brutality - backed up with lawsuits filed by his victims.
The officers, who have been involved in excessive-force lawsuits that collectively have cost the city $660,000 in settlements
At the time of Angie's death, Officer Zeolla and the Detroit PD were being sued for Zeolla excessive force in yet another case of police brutality.
Angela "Angie" Dewald Kolhagen
Angela Marie (Dewald) Kolhagen, 29, of Detroit, formerly of Reese, died unexpectedly, Wednesday, July 23, 2013 in Detroit. She was born October 8, 1983 in Saginaw, daughter of Ann (Young) Diana of Unionville and Alexander J. Dewald of Fairgrove. Angie was a 2002 graduate of Reese High School and had resided in Detroit for the past ten years. She was a kind hearted person who enjoyed her family and always putting them first before herself. She also enjoyed music, animals and was always fashion conscious.
Surviving besides her mother and father is her grandmother, Charlene Baranski of Caro; two sisters, Alicia Schneider and her husband Robert of Saginaw; Amy Pavlawk and her fiancée, Josh Clark of Vero Beach, Florida, her special friend William "Z" Zeolla of Detroit; her nephew, Tyler Dewald, her mother’s special friend, Gary Marker of Unionville; and her beloved cat, "Mama Kitty". Angie was predeceased by her grandparents, Alex and Ella Dewald, Richard Fields and Leonard Baranski and her uncle, Richard "Rick" Fields.
Funeral Services will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, July 29, 2013 from the Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Home, 9940 Saginaw St. Reese. Rev. John Pohanka will officiate with cremation to follow. Angie’s family will receive friends at the funeral home on Sunday from 4-7 p.m. and on Monday from 10 a.m. until services. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Angie’s family.
Detroit Police Officer William Zeolla's website: CCW Defense
"Don't be the next 911 call"
Angie Kolhagen's death
Report: Girlfriend of Detroit police officer fatally shot; suicide suspected
MLive July 24, 2013 at 7:23 AM http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/07/report_girlfriend_of_detroit_p.html
DETROIT — Detroit police were quick to arrive to the scene of a fatal shooting at the home of a fellow officer on the city's northwest side Tuesday,WJBK, Fox 2 News in Detroit reports.
"It appears that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the part of the officer's girlfriend. We're still early in the investigation, and we should have an update sooner than later," Detroit Police Chief James Craig told Fox 2.
Sources said police were investigating the backyard of the home where the shooting initially occurred prior to the officer carrying his girlfriend to the front of the home, the news source reports.
Detroit officer's girlfriend fatally shot in apparent suicide
Posted: Jul 23, 2013 4:29 PM CDT
Updated: Jul 23, 2013 5:32 PM CDT
By Randy Wimbley
Fox 2 News
DETROIT (WJBK) - A fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon happened at the home of a Detroit police officer on the city's northwest side.
"It appears that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the part of the officer's girlfriend. We're still early in the investigation, and we should have an update sooner than later," said Detroit Police Chief James Craig.
Fox 2 has learned the weapon the woman used may have belonged to the officer.
Neighbors said the two were living together, and it did not appear as if they were a troubled couple.
During the initial search of the property, police spent several minutes in the backyard. Sources told Fox 2 that is where the victim shot herself before the officer carried her to the front of the house.
Several police vehicles responded to the scene. Neighbors said the response time was very fast.
Police are continuing to investigate.
Lawsuits filed against Officer William Zeolla:
City of Detroit City Council INTERNAL OPERATIONS STANDING COMMITTEE WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2013 ...Status of Finance Department/Purchasing Division Contract No. 2878143 - 100% City Funding – To Provide Legal Services: Representation for Detroit Police Department Officers J. Lyons, B. Terechenok and William Zeolla – Company: Plunkett & Cooney, P.C., Location: 535 Griswold, Suite 2400, Detroit, MI 48226 – Contract Period: February 15, 2013 through February 15, 2014 – Contract Amount Not to Exceed: $30,000.00. LAW (BROUGHT BACK AS DIRECTED 5-8-13)... http://www.detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/cityclerk/calendar_2013/Internal%20Operations/cal5-15-13%20IOS_1.pdf
City of Detroit City Council
INTERNAL OPERATIONS STANDING COMMITTEE
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2013
NEW BUSINESS FINANCE DEPARTMENT/PURCHASING DIVISION
Submitting the following Finance Department/Purchasing Division Contracts: 12. Submitting reso. autho. Contract No. 2878143 - 100% City Funding – To Provide Legal Services: Representation for Detroit Police Department Officers J. Lyons, B. Terechenok and William Zeolla – Company: Plunkett & Cooney, P.C., Location: 535 Griswold, Suite 2400, Detroit, MI 48226 – Contract Period: February 15, 2013 through February 15, 2014 – Contract Amount Not to Exceed: $30,000.00. LAW (REFERRED TO THE INTERNAL OPERATIONS STANDING COMMITTEE ON 5-8-13) ...
City of Detroit City Council Jan 30, 2013 ...Settlement in lawsuit of David Lyons v. City of Detroit... P.O. Officer Zeolla #1585, Sgt. Lisa Shade #5887, P.O. Ed Jackson #2701, P.O. Enrique Jackson... P.O. Jason Kyle, Sgt. Kenneth Thomas and jointy and/or severally; Case No: 11-014840-NO; File No.; A37000.007586; in the amount of $52,500.00 by reason of alleged injury sustained on or about December 6, 2009... http://www.detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/cityclerk/calendar_2012/Internal%20Operations/Detailed%20Notes/DETAILED%20NOTES%201-30-13.pdf
Jan 9, 2013
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CIVIL ACTION NO. 12-10934
KEENAN R. ELLSBERRY, Plaintiff,
CITY OF DETROIT, BRIAN TERECHENOK, WILLIAM ZEOLLA, JUSTIN LYONS, OFFICER KILE, AND JAMES AUDE, Defendants .
...Defendants’ request for permission to withdraw as counsel for Terechenok, Lyons, and Zeolla is GRANTED... Defendants’ request for a stay is DENIED. However, Plaintiff may not depose Terechenok, Lyons, or Zeolla for 60 days. During this 60 day period, Terechenok, Lyons, and Zeolla must attempt to secure new counsel... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied-2_12-cv-10934/pdf/USCOURTS-mied-2_12-cv-10934-3.pdf
City of Detroit City Council
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2012
...Submitting reso. autho. Legal Representation and Indemnification in lawsuit of Keenan Ellsberry v. City of Detroit, Brian Terechenok, William Zeolla, Justin Lyons, Officer Kile and James Aude; United States District Court Case No.: 12-10934; for P.O. Jason Kile and P.O. James Aude... http://www.detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/cityclerk/calendar_2012/Agenda/Agenda%2010-30-12.pdf
Prior and pending lawsuits against the officers
September 24, 2012
Detroit Free Press
The Detroit police officers named in the Keenan Ellsberry lawsuit -- Brian Terechenok, Justin Lyons, William Zeolla and Jason Kile -- have been sued before. Here is a summary of the lawsuits.
2003: A Detroit man sues Terechenok and other officers, saying they beat and arrested him without justification after a mix-up with a gas station attendant who wouldn't let the man pump $6 worth of gasoline that he had already paid for. The man said officers assumed he was trying to rob the station. The officers said he was disorderly. Outcome: The city settled the case out of court for $290,000.
2008: A Wayne County man sues Zeolla and another officer, saying they severely beat him after he tried to flee on foot after a traffic stop. The officers said he resisted arrest. The man later pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Outcome: The city settled the case out of court for $47,500.
2008: A jogger sues Lyons and two other officers, saying they assaulted and arrested him without justification. The man said he was jogging, heard gunshots and picked up his pace. He said he wasn't aware the police were chasing him because they were driving an unmarked car and wearing fatigues. Lyons refused to answer questions about his disciplinary record at his lawsuit deposition, and the other officers failed to appear for their depositions, court papers said. Outcome: The city settled the lawsuit out of court for $131,500.
2008: A Detroit man sues Zeolla, Kile and another officer, saying they pulled over the car he was riding in on a bogus traffic charge -- that he wasn't wearing a seat belt. He said they patted him down without justification, found a concealed handgun, beat him while he was restrained and refused to provide any medical treatment. The man pleaded guilty to a weapons violation and was jailed. The officers denied the allegations. Outcome: The city settled the case out of court for $132,500.
2009: A Detroit motorist sues Terechenok and Lyons, saying they assaulted him without provocation after pulling him over for driving with his car lights off. The man said the lights were on. He said the officers arrested him for carrying a weapon even though he had a valid concealed weapons permit. The charge later was dismissed. Outcome: The city agreed to settle out of court with the motorist and his passenger, who also was arrested, for $60,000.
2011: A man sues Zeolla and three other officers, saying they assaulted and arrested him without justification while he was walking on a city street. He said the criminal charges ultimately were dropped. Outcome: Pending.
2011: A Detroit motorist sues Kile and another officer, saying they pulled him over on bogus charges of driving with a defective taillight and failing to wear a seat belt, threatened to shoot him if he tried to flee, and kicked and punched him while he lay on the ground in handcuffs. The officers denied doing anything wrong. Outcome: Pending.
Suburbanite's police brutality lawsuit hinges on Detroit officer who broke code of silence
September 24, 2012
Detroit Free Press
Keenan Ellsberry said the last thing he expected when he drove to his ex-wife's house in the wee hours of May 2, 2011, was to be mistaken for a drug dealer and beaten by police.
"I thought I was going to die," the 36-year-old advertising executive from West Bloomfield said of the events that morning in Detroit.
Ellsberry, who is black, said two white officers savagely attacked him in front of his ex-wife and two of his children and then falsely accused him of assaulting the officers and trying to grab one of their guns.
The criminal charges were dropped after Officer Steve Posey, who also is black, told internal affairs investigators that the other officers used excessive force.
Ellsberry says he suffered long-term injuries and is suing the officers and the city. His ex-wife, Chanel Smith, a vice president of a suburban bank branch, filed a separate suit on behalf of their children, saying they are getting therapy for trauma.
"None of this surprises me -- we see it every day," Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said of the Ellsberry
Scott's group has complained for years about police brutality in Detroit. Its efforts helped spark an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which forced the Police Department in 2003 to adopt policies to reduce use of force, curtail mistreatment of prisoners and end the practice of dragnet arrests of potential homicide witnesses.
The department is years behind schedule in carrying out the reforms. But under Mayor Dave Bing, the department has made an all-out push to comply and is nearing the 90% mark.
Though use-of-force complaints have dropped -- there were 1,369 complaints in 2011 and 1,421 in 2010 -- critics say the department still has a costly brutality problem.
Nearly half of the $57.4 million the cash-strapped city has paid out in lawsuits since July 2009 was in police cases, many involving excessive force and false arrest, records show.
"We're making headway because people aren't being killed," Scott said. "But the beatings, the verbal abuse and the racist remarks have not gone away."
Scott said the Ellsberry case is a good example of that.
Refusing to cover up
"The hero of this story is Steve Posey," said Ellsberry's lawyer, David A. Robinson of Southfield. "Posey saw something wrong and put his career on the line by following policy, not the Blue Code" -- an unwritten policy of police officers covering for each other.
Robinson, a former Detroit police officer, said it's one of the few times he has seen an officer break ranks with comrades.
Posey declined to comment for this report.
The department's internal affairs section presented Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with a warrant request for criminal charges against three officers. But after several months, the department still is waiting for a response.
Worthy's office said it hopes to decide soon.
The officers, who have been involved in other excessive-force lawsuits that collectively have cost the city $660,000 in settlements, didn't respond to a Free Press interview request. The lawsuits alleged unprovoked beatings and trumped-up charges to justify the officers' conduct. It's unclear if they were disciplined in those cases.
City lawyers wouldn't comment on the Ellsberry case, but said in court papers that the officers had probable cause for the arrest and acted in self-defense.
Former Deputy Chief Jamie Fields, who was in charge of consent-decree compliance until he retired in 2009, says the department hasn't gotten the upper hand on excessive force.
He said police supervisors often are reluctant to discipline overly aggressive cops because they make a lot of arrests and produce statistics.
"The majority of officers want to do the right thing," Fields said. "Until you start holding officers accountable and disciplining them for doing wrong things and show that such behavior won't be tolerated, the culture won't change."
At a community meeting Thursday to discuss the city's crime crisis, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said that his officers must be aggressive but mindful of the rights of law-abiding citizens in combating crime.
"We have to resist the urge of those heavy-handed techniques that run over people's rights," he said, referring to controversial tactics, such as stop-and-frisk, that tend to target minorities.
The Ellsberry incident began about 3 a.m., according to police reports, dispatch recordings and internal affairs interviews obtained by Ellsberry's lawyers.
Officers Brian Terechenok and Justin Lyons, both 12-year department veterans, said Ellsberry failed to signal a turn in Detroit's quiet, middle-class Rosedale Park neighborhood.
Ellsberry, vice president and director of innovation at Team Detroit, Ford's Dearborn-based advertising agency, said he was on his way to his ex-wife's home to drop off some of the $1,880 in cash he had received from selling a motorcycle.
The officers said Ellsberry sped off in his 2006 white Land Rover and blew through stop and yield signs before pulling into his ex-wife's driveway in the 15300 block of Stahelin.
Ellsberry said there was no chase. He said he pulled over after noticing the scout car's emergency lights.
He said officers ordered him out of his vehicle and assaulted him without warning outside the view of the scout car camera.
The officers said the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Ellsberry hit them and tried to grab Lyons' gun before they finally subued him.
Afterward, he was taken to a hospital for treatment, and then booked for fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, assault and trying to disarm an officer. He spent three days in jail.
What officer reported
Ellsberry's criminal lawyer, Harrison Munson of Detroit, said Ellsberry's fate would have been sealed but for Posey, 44, a former Chrysler worker who joined the department in 2009.
It was Posey's first night on midnights in the 8th Precinct.
He and Officer James Aude, who is white, were the first to respond to Terechenok and Lyons' call for help.
When they arrived, Posey said, he saw Ellsberry's distraught ex-wife and their crying 12-year-old daughter in the driveway. After ordering them into the house, he saw Ellsberry lying face-down on the front lawn with his hands cuffed behind his back.
He said Lyons was on top of Ellsberry, kneeing him in the kidneys and screaming at him to stop resisting.
Ellsberry wasn't resisting, Posey later told investigators.
He said Terechenok was standing nearby and out of breath, as if he had been involved in the struggle.
Posey said he tapped Lyons on the shoulder to stop him from kneeing Ellsberry and tried to get Ellsberry to his feet.
By then, two other white officers arrived, William Zeolla and Jason Kile.
Posey told investigators that he yelled at Kile to avoid stepping on Ellsberry's cell phone. He said Kile deliberately kicked it across the lawn. Then, Zeolla stepped with full force on the side of Ellsberry's face, Posey said.
Chanel Smith told investigators she was on the phone with Ellsberry when he pulled into her driveway, heard him repeatedly ask what he had done wrong and then heard a commotion.
When she went outside, she said, she saw two officers on top of Ellsberry, punching, kneeing and choking him.
"Why are they doing that to Dad?" she said her children, ages 10 and 12, screamed.
More scout cars arrived.
Smith said she pleaded with the officers to stop the beating.
Ellsberry never resisted, she said. "I felt like his life was slipping away ..."
Eventually, Posey got Ellsberry into his scout car.
"Man, I wasn't fighting them, I wasn't fighting them," Posey said Ellsberry told him.
While Ellsberry was at a hospital getting stitches in his upper lip and painkillers for bruises, officers searched his vehicle for drugs or weapons. They found an empty magazine for Ellsberry's legally registered handgun.
At one point, they wanted to take the vehicle to the Ambassador Bridge to have border agents X-ray it for contraband.
Officers got a warrant to draw blood to check for alcohol or drugs in Ellsberry's system. The results were negative.
Later that morning, he was taken back to the hospital because he was urinating blood.
By then, Posey had told a supervisor, Sgt. James Demps, what he had witnessed.
Demps, who is black, had arrived at the scene after the struggle, but told investigators he had to physically stop Terechenok from manhandling Ellsberry during a pat down.
Demps also said he had "a bad vibe" about the incident because Ellsberry didn't have the demeanor of a dope dealer and trying to stop him at 3 a.m. for a minor traffic offense seemed contrived. He also said he suspected Terechenok of being racist.
Demps wouldn't discuss the case with the Free Press.
But audiotapes of his interview with investigators show that he wanted his shift lieutenant to call Internal Affairs. He said the lieutenant didn't want to jeopardize the officers' careers.
"What if this is your brother, your cousin or whatever," Demps said he told his boss. "Wouldn't you want some justice for this guy? I mean, think about this. This happened in front of his wife and kids. They'll never look at him the same. ... Something's got to be done."
Demps said a sergeant who also was reluctant to call Internal Affairs expressed shock after googling Ellsberry's name and discovering what he does for a living.
Internal affairs got involved anyway after Ellsberry complained that $450 of his cash was missing. The investigation quickly escalated into a police brutality probe.
Terechenok, Lyons and Zeolla wouldn't talk to investigators on advice of their lawyers.
Two other officers, both white, said they didn't witness an assault on Ellsberry.
"I was in a position to have seen that and I can say with a clear conscience that that did not happen," said Aude, adding that Ellsberry resisted being handcuffed, but not violently.
"I don't know why people's names are getting stomped in the mud on this whole thing," Kile told investigators.
Three months later, a judge dismissed the charges against Ellsberry after Terechenok, Lyons and Zeolla refused to testify at Ellsberry's preliminary exam.
Ellsberry said the episode was scary: "If Posey hadn't come onto the scene and my wife and kids hadn't been there, I think they would have killed me."
He said his fingers are still numb from the incident, and he has nerve damage in his wrists because of too-tight handcuffs.
He wants the officers prosecuted and fired.
But that may not happen.
Chief Godbee said that there are discrepancies in Posey's account that could prevent the officers from being charged or disciplined. He wouldn't elaborate.
Graphic: Lead-up to an assault
1:53 AM, Sep. 24, 2012
Detroit Free Press
Keenan Ellsberry says two Detroit police officers assaulted him on May 2, 2011, after pulling him over for a traffic stop. The officers said it was Ellsberry who assaulted them. But a judge dismissed felony charges against the Detroit-area advertising executive after the officers refused to testify at his preliminary examination in Detroit’s 36th District Court. Ellsberry and his ex-wife are suing the officers over the incident.
City of Detroit City Council
WEDNESAY, MARCH 7, 2012
...Submitting reso. autho. Legal Representation and Indemnification in lawsuit of Ralph Thomas v. City of Detroit, Travis Kostanko, A. Jaber, William Zeolla, and V. Eschen, U.S.D.C. Case No. 11-10850, for P.O. Victoria Eschen, P.O. Ali Jaber, P.O. William Zeolla, and P.O. Travis Kostanko... http://www.detroitmi.gov/Portals/0/docs/cityclerk/calendar_2012/Agenda/Agenda%203-6-12.pdf
April 28, 2009
July 24, 2008