“Each day gets harder when I realize that you’re really gone,” Mary Stewart wrote today. “Happy Birthday, I love you Darrius Stewart.”
Darrius was only 19-years-old when he was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer on a late Friday night, last July.
The Memphis, Tennessee police officer stopped a car for a broken headlight. He then issued a ticket to the driver and let him go.
But the officer believed that 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 in order for the officer to verify the warrants.
The officer claims that Stewart “kicked the door and attacked the officer,” according to local WREG.
The officially version of what happened claims that “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 was rushed to Regional Medical Center in critical condition where he died shortly thereafter.
Though the officer claimed he had “several cuts and bruises from the fight,” he never went to get checked out by any medical professional for these alleged injuries.
“Words can’t express how I feel,” Stewart’s mother explained. “If my son attacked this officer, why didn’t he use a taser? There were two officers and only one of my son.”
That’s a great question – especially since it turns out Darrius was not the man with warrants who the officer assumed he was.
Family members now say they want answers.
Stewart’s mother says that her son was detained several months before his death for the same “mistaken identity” that the police refused tocorrect.
“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 explained.
Police said they believe Stewart had a warrant in Iowa that they thought was for a sex offense and another warrant in Illinois.
But they never handcuffed Stewart. Why would they put him in the police cruiser on suspicion of having these warrants, and yet not handcuff him?
Stewart’s mother says Darrius had enrolled at the University of Memphis, which he would have started in the fall. He planned to become a doctor, and he has never even been arrested. He was never fleeing any warrants, because he never had any warrants or even arrests.
“We don’t understand,” Darrius’ aunt Terry Stewart said. “Police are supposed to serve and protect, yet society fears. I think they are hiding a lot of things.”
The officer ultimately shot and killed Darrius because he thought he was someone else.
Police still say they have “no comment” as to the warrant confusion and why their officers continuously harassed this young man.