Black Teen Darrius Stewart, 19, Killed by Memphis Police; Mom Claims ‘Mistaken Identity’
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports 19-year-old Darrius Stewart was shot and killed during what police are calling a struggle between the teen and an officer following a traffic stop at 5799 Winchester shortly before midnight. Police stopped the blue 2009 Chevrolet Malibu in which Stewart was a passenger because one of the car’s headlights was out.
The car’s driver was cited and released, but Stewart was placed in the rear of a police car without handcuffs while the officer attempted to verify two outstanding warrants against him. According to police, the warrants are for a sex-related offense in Iowa and for failure to appear in court in Illinois.
After verifying the warrants, the officer returned to his patrol car, opening the door to handcuff Stewart when the teen kicked the door and attacked him. Stewart allegedly used the officer’s handcuffs to assault him, after which he drew his gun and fired. Stewart was rushed to Regional Medical Center in critical condition, but was later pronounced dead.
WMC reports the officer involved in the deadly incident suffered several cuts and bruises during the incident but did not require hospitalization. He is relieved of duty pending the outcome of an investigation.
According to Mary Stewart, Darrius’ mother, her son’s death resulted from a case of mistaken identity. Stewart told WHBQ that Darrius had been detained several months ago for the same thing.
“[Darius] has been pulled over before o Shelby Drive,” she said. “But when they ran his ID, they said another person had the same name that had warrants. I do not know what the police did this time that was different.”
Stewart also questioned the officer’s use of lethal force.
“Words can’t express how I feel,” she told WMC. “If my son attacked this officer, why didn’t he use a taser? There were two officers and only one of my son.”
Memphis police would not answer reporters’ questions about warrants involving Stewart, nor could they say for certain if the warrants were even for the slain teen.
UPDATE: The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports Stewart had two active warrants against him.