The family of Darrius Stewart, a black teen who was shot and killed by a Memphis, Tenn., police officer in the aftermath of a traffic stop, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, WREG reports.
According to the news station, lawyers representing the family believe that a lawsuit is the only way to hold Memphis police accountable for civil rights violations and police killings. The family is demanding $17 million in the lawsuit.
Stewart, 19, was killed in July 2015 by Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling following an alleged altercation during a traffic stop.
The unidentified driver of the vehicle Stewart was riding in was allowed to leave the scene, but Stewart was held because of two active 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 said, according to a report cited by WREG.
Police in Iowa City had charged the 19-year-old with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, while police in Illinois had a warrant out for Stewart for juvenile delinquency.
“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," the driver continued in the report, according to WREG.
Memphis Officer Schilling told investigators that Stewart refused to obey commands during the stop.
“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.
After the two went to the ground, Schilling said, Stewart grabbed at his shirt and duty belt, which held his gun. Schilling said that he believed Stewart was trying to grab something he could use as a weapon.
“Stewart grabbed and squeezed Schilling’s genitals when they fought on the ground. Stewart gained control of Schilling’s handcuffs and began striking Schilling in the face and arms," documents indicate.
At that point, Schilling said he "believed Stewart was not trying to get away at this point in the altercation; he was trying to do physical harm."
Schilling discharged his service weapon twice, hitting, and ultimately killing, the teen.
According to WREG, District Attorney Amy Weirich did recommend charges against Schilling, but a grand jury declined to indict the officer.
After the shooting, Schilling retired because of post-traumatic stress disorder, the news site notes.
Read more at WREG.