No U.S. Prosecution in Memphis Police Killing of Black Man

U.S. Justice Department says evidence was insufficient to prove a civil rights violation in officer Connor Schilling’s shooting of Darrius Stewart last year. Rep. Steve Cohen calls case a “miscarriage of justice.”

A federal review of the fatal shooting of Darrius Stewart in Memphis concluded with insufficient evidence to support charges against former police officer Connor Schilling, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Stewart, an unarmed black 19-year-old, was fatally shot July 17, 2015, by Schilling, a white officer, after a traffic stop. The shooting prompted protests and vigils and has continued to be one of the catalysts behind recent demonstrations in Memphis. Federal prosecutors, FBI agents and attorneys in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division examined witness statements and video of portions of the incident, as well as consulting with the Shelby County Medical Examiner and a forensic scientist.

“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Connor Schilling violated a federal criminal civil rights statute,” said U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton. Stanton said the government would have had to prove Schilling acted willfully to deprive Stewart of his constitutional rights. Two requirements would have to be met: using an unreasonable amount of force and acting willfully with a bad purpose. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tn.) said that, “Despite DOJ’s decision, however, there was still a miscarriage of justice.”