VOL. 130 | NO. 241 | Friday, December 11, 2015
Stewart File To Go Public No Later Than Next Week
By Bill Dries
District Attorney General Amy Weirich is preparing to make public the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation file on the fatal police shooting of Darrius Stewart no later than Tuesday, Dec. 15. And the file will include videos.
“We’re going to do the best we can,” Weirich said on the WKNO-TV program “Behind The Headlines.” “We have been working with the Chancellor (James Newsom) and others to create a process. This is the first time this has ever been done. So, it’s new territory for all of us.”
Weirich commented during a Thursday, Dec. 10, taping of the television program, which airs Friday at 7 p.m.
The path to making the TBI file public opened earlier this week when Arthur Quinn, attorney for Memphis Police Department officer Connor Schilling, filed a notice with the court saying his client would not appeal Newsom’s ruling that the file should be opened to the public.
In the three-paragraph notice, Quinn notes that Schilling does not object to making the TBI report public but does assert it should happen after the U.S. Justice Department completes its review.
In his Dec. 8 ruling, Newsom agreed with Weirich that the TBI file should be opened – with some redactions – “immediately.” Newsom stayed his order until Dec. 15 to give Schilling, through his attorney, a chance to seek an appeal.
Now that Schilling has said he won’t seek an appeal, it is unclear whether the stay runs its course to next week or ends sooner.
“Right now we are making sure and double checking and triple checking that our system, our website, can handle this voluminous report and the videos that go along with it,” Weirich said. “I would also like to give the mother and father and the lawyers for Darrius Stewart and the lawyer for the officer an opportunity to come in and view that file if they want to before it’s made open to the entire community.”
There are still redactions that would remove sensitive information like Social Security numbers and addresses.
The court doesn’t currently possess the file. The copy to be used is with Weirich’s office; Newsom’s ruling says the DA’s website will coordinate public access.
Newsom’s decision is the first time a court order has been sought to make TBI file public, under terms of the statute that specifically seals all bureau records.
Stewart was shot and fatally wounded in July by Schilling during a traffic stop; Stewart was the stopped car’s passenger. Schilling and Stewart fought when the officer attempted to handcuff Stewart after discovering he was wanted on warrants in another state. The fight ended with Schilling shooting Stewart.
Weirich turned over the investigation to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The TBI issued a 600-page report to Weirich, and she and her staff then reviewed the report and conducted their own investigation.
But the TBI presented the case to the Shelby County Grand jury, which in November decided Schilling would not be charged in the incident. That was despite Weirich’s recommendation that Schilling should be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
But because the grand jury proceedings are secret, Weirich said she doesn’t know if the TBI relayed her recommendation to the grand jury.