Family Says 19-Year-Old Killed by Tenn. Officer Was Mistaken for Someone Else

Darrius Stewart
WSMV

A Memphis, Tenn., teen was killed by a police officer over the weekend in what his family says is a case of mistaken identity, WSMV reports.

Darrius Stewart, 19, was the passenger in a vehicle that a Memphis Police Department officer stopped for a broken headlight. The officer issued the driver a ticket and released him, but Stewart allegedly had several warrants for his arrest, so the officer placed him in the backseat of the police car to verify the warrants, the news station notes.

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However, when the officer opened the back door to handcuff the teen, Stewart allegedly kicked the door and attacked the officer. Stewart then reportedly grabbed the officer's handcuffs and swung them at him. The officer then grabbed his gun and shot the young man, who was taken to a medical center but later died.

The officer reportedly had several cuts and bruises on him from the fight but did not need medical attention. He has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.

"Words can't express how I feel," Stewart's mother told the news station. "If my son attacked this officer, why didn't he use a Taser? There were two officers and only one of my son."

The family told the news station that they were not given any information about what happened to the teen, and insisted that Stewart did not have any warrants out in his name and had never been arrested.

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Stewart's mother said that he had been detained months ago for the same reason but was released. "They told him he could leave because he wasn't the one they were looking for, but to be safe because there is someone out there with the same name and a lot of warrants," she said.

According to Stewart's mother, the teen had plans to attend the University of Memphis in the fall and wanted to become a doctor.

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"We don't understand," his aunt Terry Stewart said. "Police are supposed to serve and protect, yet society fears us. … I feel that they are hiding a lot of things."

According to WSMV, authorities have still not verified whether the warrants were the teen's. Police told the news station that they were able to use his name and date of birth and find warrants but were not able to obtain pictures from other agencies.

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Read more at WSMV.

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