Federal officials will review the events surrounding the death of 19-year-old Darrius Stewart, who was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer in July.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward L. Stanton announced Monday that the Department of Justice, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI will be working with his office to further investigate the case.
Stewart was shot dead in July, after a car in which he was riding was pulled over by Officer Connor Schilling for a broken headlight. According to reports, the officer let the driver go with a ticket, but noted the 19-year-old had outstanding warrants and held him in the back of a police car. Stewart was not handcuffed when he was placed in the car. The officer says when he opened the car door to arrest Stewart he was attacked and he shot him to protect himself.
Stewart’s family claim the warrants were not for their 19-year-old son and that it was a case of mistaken identity. But local news reports have linked a person with Stewart’s birth date and his mother’s name to at least one of the warrants and officials in Iowa have confirmed one of the warrants to reporters.
A state grand jury declined to indict Schilling in November. According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Department of Justice has been “conducting an independent, comprehensive, and careful review of the evidence collected related to the shooting of Stewart.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s office and its federal, state and local partners take very seriously all allegations of civil rights violations by law enforcement officers,” the statement reads. “The Department will continue to devote the necessary resources to examine any such allegations and will aggressively prosecute criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.”
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