DOJ: ‘Insufficient’ evidence to support federal charges in Darrius Stewart case

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The review into the Darrius Stewart case is officially closed.

The Department of Justice said there was insufficient evidence to support federal civil rights charges against Officer Connor Schilling, who shot and killed Stewart during a traffic stop back in July 2015.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI all worked on the independent review of witness statements, video footage and information in the MPD and TBI investigation.

Schilling said Stewart, who was not handcuffed, attacked him.

There is video of the two struggling before Stewart was shot. Witnesses also observed a physical confrontation between them before the shooting, according to the DOJ.

Based on this and other evidence, the DOJ determined there was not enough evidence to disprove Schilling's claim he needed to use deadly force.

The authorities also investigated whether Schilling needed to take a second shot. They found the evidence was insufficient to show Stewart posed less of a threat to Schilling when he fired the second shot, which came shortly after the first.

Congressman Steve Cohen released a statement to the media saying he was "disappointed that the Department of Justice will not be bringing civil rights charges against Officer Schilling."

He went on to say he was happy the DOJ acted by conducting an investigation in the shooting.

"Despite DOJ’s decision, however, there was still a miscarriage of justice," he said. "The standard for an indictment for a federal civil rights charge is extremely high, so I understand and respect U.S. Attorney Stanton’s decision, but there can still be a miscarriage of justice even when civil rights violation standards are not met. District Attorney Weirich must agree since she requested a manslaughter indictment, but for whatever reason, the grand jury failed to follow her recommendation. I suspect the Stewart family will now pursue a civil suit, and I hope justice will be meted out.”

A grand jury decided not to indict the officer on voluntary manslaughter charges, which was the recommendation from Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

The TBI investigated the shooting and passed its 800-page findings onto the D.A., who recommended charges.

Stewart's attorney asked the DOJ to investigate MPD for “engaging in a pattern or practice of depriving persons of their constitutionally protected rights by utilizing excessive force, discriminatory harassment, racial profiling, making false arrests, and lawful stops, searches, and seizures.”

The two were rolling on the ground when Schilling said Stewart was grabbing at his shirt and duty belt which held his gun and ammunition.

Schilling said he believed Stewart was grabbing anything he could use as a weapon, “Stewart grabbed and squeezed Schilling’s genitals whey they fought on the ground. Stewart gained control of Schilling’s handcuffs and began striking Schilling in the face and arms.”

Schilling said he was exhausted and “believed Stewart was not trying to get away at this point in the altercation; he was trying to do physical harm to him.”

As the struggle, which was caught on video, continued Schilling said he worried he would be knocked unconscious.

Schilling fired two shots, one in the right upper chest, while the other hit his left arm and continued into his body.

After the first shot, Schilling said Stewart ran about 60 yards, and Schilling gave chase.

Stewart reportedly fell to the ground and Schilling was able to get one handcuff on, but left the other off since Stewart had been shot.


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