A Memphis teenager is dead after he was shot by a police officer late Friday night. That officer claims the fatal shooting was because he had “mistaken” the 19-year-old for someone else.
Darrius Stewart was in a car stopped by the officer Friday night. The traffic stop was simply for a broken headlight. A ticket was issued and the officer let him go. But Stewart, the passenger riding with the driver was suspected of having several warrants for his arrest.
Darrius was placed in the back seat of the police cruiser. The officer has not explained why he even decided to run the identification of the passenger, which is unusual in more affluent neighborhoods.
The cop says that when he opened the cruiser door to handcuff Stewart, the teen “kicked the door and attacked the officer,” according to local 4 News.
“During the fight, Stewart grabbed the officer’s handcuffs and swung them at him. The officer grabbed his gun and shot Stewart to end the fight,” the local report (below) says.
That’s right, now it is apparently legal for police to shoot “to end the fight” even if someone is unarmed, and even if there is no clear threat to the officer’s life.
The officer did not even need to go to the hospital to attend to his minor injuries from the scuffle.
In fact, Darrius had a reason to be defensive…
Police said Stewart had a warrant in Iowa that was believed to be for a sex offense and another warrant in Illinois. When asked why Stewart was not handcuffed, police said they do not have a policy about handcuffing people in the car.
Stewart’s mother said her son was going to attend the University of Memphis in the fall. He planned to become a doctor, and he has never been arrested.
Police said they could not provide answers about the warrants at this time.
“We don’t understand,” aunt Terry Stewart said. “Police are supposed to serve and protect, yet society fears. I think they are hiding a lot of things.”
Memphis Police said they do not know for sure if the warrants were Stewart’s. They said they were able to access his name and birth date and find warrants, but were not able to access pictures from other agencies.
“Words can’t express how I feel,” Stewart’s mother explained. “If my son attacked this officer, why didn’t he use a taser? There were two officers and only one of my son.”
She said that Darrius was detained and harassed just a few months ago for the same thing. The police ultimately let him go, acknowledging that he was not the one they were looking for and did not have the warrants out that someone with his same name apparently has.
“They told him he could leave because he wasn’t the one they were looking for, but to be safe, because there is someone out there with the same name and a lot of warrants,” she added.
Watch the local report below and help us get the word out. So far, the national media is silent on this incident.