Questions linger after police pull over, shoot man for ‘unconfirmed insurance’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three Memphis police officers are suspended with pay after they pulled over and shot a driver, but questions remain over why he was pulled over in the first place.

Officers allegedly ran the license plate of 25-year-old Martavious Banks on Sept. 17, and stopped him for "unconfirmed insurance." They then chased him into a Whitehaven house, where one of the officers fired shots that hit Banks in the back.

"The license plate yielded information that insurance on the vehicle was unconfirmed," MPD Director Michael Rallings said.

But MPD sources say officers can't pull someone over just for that.

There has to be another reason and information obtained by WREG seems to support that.

We asked police how many other times it's happened in roughly the last year but were told no documents corresponded to our request.

"That makes you wonder was there another reason why they stopped him?" William Edwards said. "I have police officers in my family, and I know police officers. Unfortunately, there are situations where they cover their butts just like anyone else."

The insurance data base that officers use was created in 2017 as part of a Tennessee bill that passed a couple of years earlier. The legislation stiffened the penalties for driving without insurance.

"It was simply to ensure that people had insurance. It was not a reason for pulling people over," state Rep. Antonio Parkinson said.

Of course, questions surrounding the traffic stop are part of a larger controversy.

Police say all three officers had their body or dashboard cameras off at some point during the ordeal.

"If transparency was there and if they didn't do anything wrong, there would have been no reason to turn the cameras off."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into what happened as outrage over the incident continues to grow.

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