I attended yet another prayer vigil for an unarmed African American shot and killed by a police officer. No, I was not in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Charleston or in the state of Florida. I was here in Memphis, Tennessee.
On Friday night, July 17, 2015, 26-year-old Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling shot and killed 19-year-old Darrius Stewart in front of one of our largest churches.
According to police reports, officer Schilling pulled over a car for a headlight violation. He gave the driver of the car a citation and released the driver, but Stewart, according to police reports, had several outstanding warrants and placed uncuffed, in the back of the squad car. After checking with communications and confirming the outstanding warrants, Schilling went to open the door to handcuff Stewart. Stewart reportedly "kicked the door and attacked the officer." Stewart then got hold of Schilling's handcuffs and started hitting the officer. That is when the officer got a hold of his own gun and shot Stewart. Stewart died later at the hospital.
However, in talking with Stewart's family, they paint a different picture. The warrants, they suggest, belonged to someone else. Stewart's mother said that police detained Darrius months ago for the "same reason," but upon further investigation, police discovered that this Darrius Stewart was not the one with the outstanding warrants. This Darrius Stewart only wanted to attend the University of Memphis and become a doctor.
Our District Attorney, Amy Weirich, has now turned the case over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Citing the sensitive nature of the case -- white cop killing unarmed black man, she and police director Tony Armstrong believed that handing the case to the TBI was the right thing to do to assure a fair and unbiased investigation. However, the problem with this is that all TBI investigations are sealed and unless there is an indictment, we may never know what happened.
Read the rest here.