MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The family of Darrius Stewart has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Memphis.
Lawyers for Stewart’s family said they feel the lawsuit is the only way to hold Memphis Police accountable for civil rights violations and police killings.
The family was $17 million.
Stewart was shot and killed by Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling last July after a traffic stop.
A grand jury denied an indictment.
Schilling said Stewart was not handcuffed, grabbed his cuffs and attacked him when he opened his patrol car door.
Schilling told investigators, “Stewart put his foot on the ground and refused to obey Schilling’s commands to place his foot back in the patrol car and place his hands behind his back. Stewart kicked the patrol car door open and into Schilling. Stewart charged Schilling and grabbed Schilling by the shoulders. Schilling turned around and took Stewart to the ground.”
Schilling said he repeatedly told Stewart to stop resisting but Stewart did not listen.
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.
District Attorney Amy Weirich did ask for Memphis police officer Connor Schilling to be indicted for voluntary manslaughter and employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony.
A grand jury chose not to indict Schilling for shooting and killing Stewart July 17, 2015, during a traffic stop.
The driver was allowed to leave, but Stewart was held because he had two active warrants.
In the report, the unidentified driver described an uneventful traffic stop.
He said Schilling explained he was holding Stewart because he had warrants, “Darrius was hesitating to get out of the car and said he was scared. Me and (name redacted) told him to do what the officer was telling him to do. He took Darrius to his police car and put him in the back seat.”
The driver told investigators, He (Schilling) kept telling him (Stewart) nicely to calm down and get out of the car. He told Darrius he would tell him in a minute what was going on. The officer told him nice and professional and that is when I told him just “get in the car and go on and cooperate.”
Stewart had to warrants out for him at the time he was taken into custody.
Iowa City Police charged Stewart with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse while police in Illinois had a warrant for Stewart for juvenile delinquency.
A family member told police in Iowa that three boys told her Stewart, “put his penis in their butt on at least four different occasions.”
When police tried to speak with Darrius, they were told his mother had moved him to Louisiana.
The driver said the officer went over the ticket with him, “I asked him before I left could I go tell Darrius mother he was going downtown and the officer told me that was fine. I got Ms. Stewart and she trailed us back to the Winchester and when we got there we saw all the police cars.”
Schilling was allowed to retire due to post-traumatic stress disorder from the shooting.
MPD Internal Affairs did found two violations during the July 17, 2015, arrest which led to Stewart’s fatal shooting.
While it was fine to place Stewart in his patrol car without handcuffs, Schilling violated procedure by not waiting for backup to arrive before opening the car door.
While talking with dispatch, Schilling was advised to move out of Stewart’s earshot because the dispatcher was about to tell the officer Stewart had warrants and was to be extradited.
Not moving away as he was advised was a violation of policy and according to the finding, allowed Stewart to escape the car.