This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County’s district attorney says she is willing to review more cases involving police and excessive force.

“Nothing has changed in terms of the process in place for a long time,” District Attorney General Amy Weirich said. “We need a better system in place on a regular basis.”

Weirich said any law enforcement agency can ask her office to review police misconduct to make sure there wasn’t criminal wrongdoing. 

Prosecutors will review the evidence and if they decide charges should be filed, the case goes to a grand jury.

It’s unclear how many cases have been sent to a grand jury, but in recent months there have been indictments. 

Memphis Police asked Weirich’s office to review a case involving now-former officer Eric Kelly. He allegedly had a sexual relationship with a woman involved in a murder he was investigating.

Last month, he was indicted on three felony counts of misconduct.

In August, former Shelby County Deputy Justin Fitzgibbon was also indicted for official oppression and misdemeanor assault.

The sheriff’s office asked the DA to take a look at what happened during a traffic stop where Fitzgibbon reportedly used excessive force, claiming it was self defense.

Prosecutors said the body camera footage told a different story.

Weirich said in the past, her office hasn’t kept count of the cases law enforcement referred to her office. Open records requests to MPD and the county indicate they don’t keep a record either.

We’ve found other cases MPD and the sheriff’s office sent to the DA, but have also found cases that were not.

One of those cases involved a man who was repeatedly stunned in 2016 with his hands cuffed behind his back. MPD’s internal affairs found the officer in violation of their weapons and excessive force policy.

The DA wasn’t asked to weigh in, and internal MPD documents don’t say why.

“Where the issue has become are those cases that have not been sent to us,” Weirich said. “We don’t know what we don’t know in terms of those cases that are never sent to us for review.”

Weirich said she’s willing to sit down with law enforcement and create a policy or plan on what cases need review.

“Police officers and public officials are held to a higher standard,” said Josh Spickler with Just City, which advocates for criminal justice reform.

He said at the very least, the community should expect a formal process by which referrals go from the police department to the district attorney’s office. He believes that will help build trust.

“We need accountability and transparency because of that higher standard that we hold them to. That our laws say we hold them to,” Spickler said.

MPD Director Michael Rallings said the department has been talking to the DA.

“We currently don’t have a solid process to where cases are referred to the DA when you’re talking about cxcessive force cases,” Rallings said.

Rallings said besides officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, there is no written policy on what cases go to the DA for review.

“There are a number of cases that we have observed, and it is clearly criminal. We move forward with criminal complaints,” he said. “So far, it’s been a case by case basis, but we want to do a better job of working with the DA and working with our association to devleop an internal policy that we can routinely follow and have these cases reviewed or referred.”

As for the sheriff, he said in an email that there’s no written policy — just “in practice.”

“We would rather err on the side of caution and let our district attorney make the decision about whether the employee should be charged criminally,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner wrote. “Examples include sexual assault of someone in our custody and unnecessary and excessive use of force.”

Weirich said she thinks law enforcement does a good job of referring cases to her to review. 

“Let’s be honest, neither Rallings nor Sheriff Bonner want anybody to be wearing their uniform that is engaging in criminal conduct, right?” she said. “In my mind, what should be the policy is that any finding of excessive force by a law enforcement agency against one of their own should be sent to us.

“Again, that’s up to the law enforcement agency to make that decision on how they want to handle those cases,” Weirich added.

In an effort to be more transparent, MPD has recently posted more information about the types of complaints made against officers over the past four years. You can see that website here.

The sheriff says he’s on the governor’s task force working to expand national databases that provide more info on deputies who’ve been terminated or decertified.


Are you on board with creating a portal or database listing excessive force complaints, similar to what the city of Memphis is looking at? 
As you know, I have been part of the Governor’s Law Enforcement Reform Task Force and we are pushing to expand the national database that would provide information to other agencies about deputies who have been terminated or decertified for such things as the use of excessive force. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office currently sends requests to decertify deputies who have been terminated or resigned rather than be disciplined for excessive force. 

Do you think there are better ways to bridge community and police relations? Would you be willing to sit down or form a committee about police reform? 
Yes. Of course, that is why I am participating in the Governor’s Task Force as well as that of the City Mayor. We are continuing to find new and better ways to have citizen input and better communications. It’s also one of the reasons I recently created a Civilian Hiring Committee, to assist us in finding the best deputies that we can. The members are: 

Hon. James C. Beasley, Jr., retired Criminal Court Judge 
James Jones, III, President, Teamsters Local 667 
Bishop Brandon Porter, Pastor, Greater Community Temple 
Steve Stamson, Chairman, Shelby County Election Committee 
Vickie Terry, Executive Director, NAACP 

How does the public file a complaint if he/she feels like a deputy used excessive force, broke personal conduct, etc.? 
They should contact our Bureau of Professional Standards and Integrity, by e-mail or phone, and they will receive information about filing complaints. The contact information is on our website,

Do you feel the process is clear? 
Yes, it appears to be. Even when citizens will not give a statement, we will investigate serious allegations. SCSO is accredited by CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies), an outside agency which reviews and approves our policies. 

How does the office handle/investigate a complaint? 
The detectives in BPSI follow up using typical investigative techniques, such as document reviews, interviews, etc. 

When is a complaint sent to the District Attorney? 
It is typically fact specific. Since this is a law enforcement agency, we would rather err on the side of caution and let our District Attorney make the decision about whether the employee should be charged criminally. Some examples include sexual assault of someone in our custody and unnecessary and excessive use of force. 

Is there a policy on what cases go to her office? 
General Weirich’s office has been very open to reviewing the cases we have provided and is always willing to discuss such matters with us. 

If not, would you be opposed to sitting down with the DA’s office and creating one? 
(see above)