Memphis’ top cop was in the spotlight and under oath Wednesday afternoon. Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings spent hours with attorneys in a deposition.
It’s part of the federal civil lawsuit by the family of Darrius Stewart, the 19-year-old shot and killed by then MPD Officer Connor Schilling in Hickory Hill in July 2015. Authorities said Stewart had outstanding warrants in two states, and cell phone video showed Schilling and Stewart fighting.
Director Rallings declined comment Wednesday afternoon before and after a closed-door deposition began inside a downtown Memphis law firm.
Carlos Moore, one of the attorneys representing Stewart’s family, said the deposition would, in part, focus on documents from Schilling’s use of force hearing, in which Rallings took part.
“We’ll be delving into that and trying to see what now-Director Rallings’ feelings about Schilling’s fateful actions that night,” said Moore. “Testimony is going to be very relevant to the investigation that was done internally by the Memphis Police Department and what they found out and what they didn’t.”
The federal civil lawsuit, filed in the summer of 2016, contends an ‘enrage and impassioned’ Schilling used excessive force when he shot and killed Stewart. The lawsuit also questions MPD’s training policies.
“Today is just another cog in the wheel in determining what happened that night and what the Memphis Police Department did before the shooting and after the shooting in regards to training his officers properly,” said Moore.
According to his personnel file, Schilling violated MPD’s policies on radio procedures and handcuffing techniques as he tried to arrest Stewart.
“We don’t see why my client, who was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a faulty headlight, was even questioned. Why he was even ID’d?” asked Moore. “So I mean, we don’t understand that and we’ll see if the chief supports that policy.”
MPD granted Schilling a line of duty retirement in March 2016. Both a Shelby County Grand Jury and federal authorities declined criminal charges for Schilling in connection to Stewart’s shooting death.
The trial for this federal civil case is scheduled to begin next August.
Attorneys for Stewart’s family tell me they still plan to depose several other people as part of the pre-trial evidence gathering, including TBI agents.