No federal charges in police killing in Memphis

2016-09-27 22:57


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Memphis - A white Memphis police officer won't face federal civil rights charges in the shooting death of a 19-year-old black man, the federal government announced on Tuesday.

US Attorney Edward Stanton told reporters that a federal review found insufficient evidence to file charges in the July 2015 shooting of Darrius Stewart by Officer Connor Schilling. Stanton added that the review by the Justice Department found that Schilling did not wilfully deprive Stewart of his rights.

The Justice Department announced in December that it was reviewing the shooting, which had sparked peaceful protests in Memphis. Stewart's shooting occurred in the months after the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Missouri, New York and elsewhere aggravated racial tensions in the country.

Police have said that Stewart was a passenger in a car Schilling stopped in July 2015 for a headlight violation. The officer discovered two active warrants for Stewart's arrest, including one for a sexual abuse charge from 2009 when Stewart was 13, according to authorities.

Schilling attempted to handcuff him, police said. Stewart attacked him, beating the officer with the handcuffs, police said. Schilling shot Stewart with his duty weapon during the struggle. He died of two gunshot wounds at a hospital, a medical examiner found.

A grand jury declined to charge the officer, despite a recommendation from Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich that he should be charged with voluntary manslaughter and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Police said Schilling retired due to a disability, a move that allows him to receive disability pay.

Stanton said that federal prosecutors and FBI agents reviewed witness statements, video footage and other information during their investigation.

"Based on the eye-witness accounts, the statement of the officer involved, the video, and the physical evidence, there is insufficient evidence to disprove Schilling's assertion that he needed to use deadly force against Stewart," Stanton said.

Stewart's family filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Memphis earlier this summer that accuses the police department of having policies that make it "okay to shoot first and ask questions second".

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