Family: Officer killed 19-year-old after mistaking him for someone else

Teen dies after struggle with MPD officer
Published: Jul. 18, 2015 at 1:03 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A teen is dead after being shot by a Memphis police officer late Friday night.

The MPD officer stopped a car for a broken headlight in the 5700 block of Winchester Road. The officer issued the driver a ticket and let him go. However, the passenger in the car had several warrants for his arrest.

Darrius Stewart, the 19-year-old passenger, was placed in the back seat of the police car to verify the warrants.

Investigators said when the officer opened the back door to handcuff Stewart, he kicked the door and attacked the officer. During the fight, Stewart grabbed the officer's handcuffs and swung them at him. The officer grabbed his gun and shot Stewart to end the fight.

Stewart went to Regional Medical Center in critical condition where he later died.

The officer had several cuts and bruises from the fight, but he did not need to go to the hospital. He is relieved of duty pending the outcome of this investigation.

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

Family members said they want answers. They said police gave them no information about what happened to their son, but they said he did not have any warrants like police claim.

Stewart's mother said her son was detained several months ago for the same thing.

"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.

Police said Stewart had a warrant in Iowa that was believed to be for a sex offense and another warrant in Illinois. When asked why Stewart was not handcuffed, police said they do not have a policy about handcuffing people in the car.

Stewart's mother said her son was going to attend the University of Memphis in the fall. He planned to become a doctor, and he has never been arrested.

Police said they could not provide answers about the warrants at this time.

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

Memphis Police said they do not know for sure if the warrants were Stewart's. They said they were able to access his name and birth date and find warrants, but were not able to access pictures from other agencies.

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