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Rosemarie Reilly repeatedly begged police for help in the month leading up to her death. Her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy Kelley, had beaten her and held a gun to her head, then started following her, she told them, but police didn’t take him into custody. Nine days after an arrest warrant was issued, Kelley tracked Reilly down at a friend’s house. In the middle of the night, he dragged her into the street by her hair and shot her multiple times in the torso before killing himself. The 21-year-old Michigan nursing student died at the scene.
Two years later, Reilly’s mother is demanding that law enforcement take responsibility for her daughter’s death and alleging in a lawsuit that they went easy on Kelley because his father was a cop. Pamela Reilly, 55, who filed a lawsuit against Michigan’s Ottawa County and several members of local police forces Oct. 5, told BuzzFeed News that the lack of urgency police showed in response to her daughter’s pleas for help led to her murder.
Because Kelley, who was also 21, had violated a restraining order taken out against him, under Michigan law he could have been forced by a court to relinquish his guns. But when Reilly and her family asked police to intervene by arresting him and taking away his guns, “they blew it off as a girlfriend–boyfriend spat,” her mother said.
“If I walked up to a stranger on the street and I held a gun to their head and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you,’ they would’ve hunted me down,” she said. “They looked at the victim as a complainer, they looked at the victim’s mother as a complainer. They didn’t look at the victim that had a gun held to her head.”
The lawsuit argues that Kelley was treated favorably because his father — who has since died — was an officer in Bloomfield Township, a department on the other side of the state from Grand Rapids, where Reilly lived while attending nearby Grand Valley State University. Weeks after Reilly first made her reports, the Grand Valley State University Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office issued arrest warrants, which, according to the lawsuit, they sent to Kelley by mail. Within days, Reilly was dead.
“I want to make America aware, this does happen, and it needs to be stopped,” Pamela said.