Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Darrius Stewart's Family Seeks $17.1M in Federal Suit Against City

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM

click to enlarge Attorneys for the family of Darrius Stewart announce their lawsuit against the city of Memphis at the Shelby County Courthouse Wednesday. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Attorneys for the family of Darrius Stewart announce their lawsuit against the city of Memphis at the Shelby County Courthouse Wednesday.

Attorneys for the family of Darrius Stewart have filed a lawsuit against the city of Memphis seeking more than $17.1 million.

Stewart was killed by Memphis Police Department (MPD) officer Connor Schilling last July. Stewart was unarmed and was attempting to flee the scene. Schilling shot twice, killing Stewart. Schilling was not fired but was allowed to retire with full pension benefits from MPD.

Attorneys for Stewart’s mother, Mary Stewart, and his father, Henry Williams said they are seeking $17,170,000, a number they said symbolizes the date of Stewart’s death, July 17, 2015. The federal suit names the city of Memphis, former MPD director Toney Armstrong, and Schilling as defendants.

Here's the city's response to the matter from the city's chief legal officer, Bruce McMullen:

First of all, this case involves the loss of life, and we are very sensitive to that fact. We also understand that police/citizen engagement in diverse communities is part of the current national conversation.
However, this case will be handled based on the facts of this specific case. As you all know, after a lengthy investigation, this matter was presented by the District Attorney to the grand jury, which is made up of citizens of Memphis and Shelby County. 

The grand jury, which has a very low standard for proceeding to prosecution, issued a “no true bill”. In other words, the grand jury reviewed the specific facts of this case, determined that there was insufficient evidence to indict the officer, and declined to prosecute. 
The civil lawsuit that was filed today is similar to the one filed by the family previously in Circuit Court, and was withdrawn. The thrust of this lawsuit appears to be based on 42 U.S.C. 1983, which focuses not on the actions of the officer, but on policies, procedures, and training of the police department. We are confident in the policies, procedures, and training that were in place under police director Toney Armstrong at the time of this incident.
At this point, the city has no further comment on this matter, now that it is in litigation.

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