Letter From The Editor 

Police shooting of son raises Askew family's suspicions.

Last Friday, Sylvia and Sterling Askew got the kind of call that every parent fears. It was from the Memphis Police Department, telling them that their son Steven, 24, had been shot and killed by police officers while sitting in his car. (Full disclosure: Sylvia is a secretary at the U.S. Public Defenders Office, where my wife works as an attorney.)

The Askews were not allowed to see their son's body for several days, until an autopsy was completed. Nor were they allowed to see his car, which was impounded, pending an investigation by the MPD.

click to enlarge MPD Blue Crush training.
  • MPD Blue Crush training.

Steven Askew had no criminal record. He was a 2006 graduate of Wooddale High School. After high school, he graduated from an airplane mechanics school. He was employed full-time. He was in the habit of going to his girlfriend's apartment complex and sleeping in his car until she got off work, which is what he was doing when he was shot. He had a permit to carry a pistol.

The Askews' attorney conducted an investigation and found witnesses who said that police officers approached Steven's car on foot from behind, then fired as many as 20 shots into the car. He also obtained a video taken by a resident of the apartment complex.

The police report states that the officers saw Askew point a gun at them, so they opened fire. Why Askew would have pointed a gun at police officers is unknown, though he may have been startled awake and reflexively reached for his weapon. Not too much is clear at this point.

But what is clear is the disturbing video, which shows 17 seconds of silence as officers approached the car after the initial fusillade of shots. It then appears to show the officers firing three more shots into Askew's body.

If this is proper police procedure for the MPD these days, then we are in a lot of trouble. I know that police work is dangerous and thankless, and by no means am I condemning the job that the great majority of our officers do. This case, however, raises legitimate questions about whether proper police protocol was followed.

A copy of the video was turned over to the MPD, but the Askew family is asking that their son's death be investigated by an outside agency, perhaps the U.S. attorney, TBI, or FBI. I think that is a reasonable and necessary course of action, particularly when — not if — this video goes public.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Tigers 70, UCF 65

News Blog

Thousands Join Memphis Women's March

Politics Beat Blog

One Eye on The Memphis Women's March, January 21, 2017

News Blog

PODCAST: Two Flyer Guys and the Portland Protests

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies 107, Kings 91: Game Notes

Intermission Impossible

Hitchcock, Cock Rock, and Bayard Rustin Live on Stage

Tiger Blue

Tigers 70, Houston 67 (OT)

News Blog

Sierra Club Protests Trump's EPA Choice

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Counter Intelligence

    • Jul 28, 2016
  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Detention Deficit

    Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."

    • Mar 10, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation