Crime Scene Photos Raise Doubt in Police Shooting
(Memphis) Police say he was drunk, throwing-up gang signs and pointed a gun at them, but nine months after two Memphis police officers shot and killed Steven Askew his family claims investigators are hiding the truth.
The family says new evidence may prove their point.
It’s not easy to forget when it’s your brother or your friend.
“It’s just hard man,” said Sterling Askew
“We went to middle school together, high school together,” said Porsha Martin.
Martin says she played the clarinet, while Steven Askew played the trombone in the Woodale High School Band.
Years later, she’s here without him, “I want justice. I want them to be behind bars like all other criminals that kill people for no reason.”
Problem is the two men who killed Askew are Memphis police officers and the district attorney decided there’s not enough evidence to prosecute them.
Police say Askew pointed a gun at them.
Others argue crime scene evidence makes that theory impossible.
“His right hand was occupied and not with a weapon,” said Askew Family Attorney Howard Manis.
News Channel 3 requested the 911 calls, police dispatch recordings and crime scene photos to find out more about what happened January 17th.
“Delta. Loud music call,” said the dispatcher.
It started with a phone call.
“There`s lots of music playing,” said the female 911 caller.
A woman called police about loud music coming from an apartment on Tyrol Court.
“It’s coming from upstairs,” she said.
Officers Ned Aufdenkamp and Matthew Dyess responded to the complaint.
Afterwards they went to the complex next door, The Windsor Place Apartments, and found Steven Askew in the parking lot asleep in his car.
They noticed a gun in his lap.
Officer Aufdenkamp called it in, “(Indecipherable) We are trying to check on someone who has a gun. Can you send another car over here please?”
Dispatch recordings obtained by News Channel 3 show only 15 seconds pass before Aufdenkamp reports back, “Fired ! Shots fired !”
Both officers emptied their guns, hitting Askew’s car 22 times and him 9 times.
Days later, the officers told investigators they shot Askew because he smirked, threw-up gang signs, reached for his gun and then pointed it at Officer Aufdenkamp.
“All of that would have had to take place in this window of time which appears to be less than 15 seconds,” said Manis.
In the internal investigation file, two women in the complex say they saw Askew put his hands-up when ordered by police.
In a crime scene photo you can see Askew died with a cigar in his right hand, “I think that was likely mistaken for something other than a cigar,” said Manis.
Manis says if Askew had a cigar in his hand, he probably didn’t point the gun.
“He had a cigar in his right hand and he is right-handed. It leaves room for doubt,” said Chris Fowler, a shooting instructor at Top Brass Sports, Inc. in Millington and a law enforcement officer in Mason, TN.
“I was his teacher,” he said.
Fowler knew Askew because the 24-year-old was a student in his hand gun permit class in February of 2012.
Askew had no criminal history and earned a permit to carry a gun.
Family members say he got the gun because he’d been robbed a few years earlier.
“I liked him,” said Fowler. “I thought he was great young man. He was very clean-cut, very polite, soft-spoken, certainly not a thug type of person at all.”
Fowler says Askew’s death is nothing less than tragic but as a police officer himself, he understands Aufdenkamp and Dyess’ experience, “You come up on a car, you look in and see a gun. Your adrenaline goes up 300 percent. You are trained to react to the gun. Him having a gun in his lap wasn’t a crime but as an officer, coming-up on that kind of situation, I see the gun and I am going to be very concerned about that weapon and I am going to draw my weapon and make sure I don’t get shot.
Askew’s family attorney believes the officers could have been better trained.
“They saw an African-American in the car with a weapon and they made some assumptions,” said Manis.
“I run into people every day that just found out my little brother died and I have to see them hurt like I was hurt the first day,” said Sterling.
As for Askew’s brother, who could almost be his twin, he says he’s not letting people forget that Steven will be missed.
“If we have to do it with three or four people, we will do it with three or four people,” he said, while his friend held up signs reading ‘He was our friend’. “I more than owe it to him. More than owe it to him.”