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Man shot by police; Memphis officers didn’t activate cameras

September 19, 2018

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Three police officers did not have their body or in-car cameras activated during the shooting of a man after a traffic stop, a possible violation of department policy, a Tennessee police chief said Tuesday.

Martavious Banks, 25, was in critical condition at a hospital after he was shot Monday in a confrontation with officers, said Lt. Karen Rudolph, a spokeswoman for the Memphis Police Department. The shooting drew angry protests from activists and relatives of Banks immediately after the shooting, including accusations of a police cover-up.

Rudolph said Banks, who is black, was stopped in his car by officers, and he told them he did not have an identification or insurance. Banks then reached down, and an officer advised that he saw a gun inside the vehicle, Rudolph said.

Rudolph said Banks then drove away.

Police then stopped Banks again a short distance from the first stop, Rudolph said. Banks ran away and was shot, police said.

A handgun was recovered at the scene, Rudolph said. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said it was not clear if Banks fired the gun that was seen in his car. Banks had outstanding warrants for assault, driving with a suspended license and violation of probation, Rudolph said.

The male officer who shot Banks was black and 26 years old, Rudolph said. He did not have his body camera turned on, but it was not clear if he ever had it activated or if he turned it off, Rallings said.

The officer who shot Banks has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation. His name has not yet been released.

Two other officers involved in the chase — one white male, one black male — deactivated their body-worn or in-car cameras, Rallings said. They also have been relieved of duty.

“I am not confident that policy was followed,” Rallings said at a news conference.

Protesters gathered after the shooting and yelled at officers on the scene. Demonstrators disputed the official account, asserting the man was shot in the back.

After the shooting, Memphis police said it was conducting its own investigation, rather than having the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation look into it. TBI, the state’s police agency, investigates officer-involved shootings that involve a death in Tennessee.

That drew an angry response from protesters, who suggested a police cover-up.

On Tuesday, Shelby County district attorney Amy Weirich asked the TBI to handle the investigation, after new information was revealed. TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland confirmed the investigation.

Memphis has had its share of shootings of black men during confrontations with police. The most high-profile was the fatal shooting of Darrius Stewart, an unarmed 19-year-old, during a fight with Connor Schilling, a white officer who was trying to arrest Stewart in July 2015. Stewart was a passenger in a car that was stopped, and a check of his background revealed outstanding warrants.

After a TBI investigation, Weirich recommended Schilling be charged with voluntary manslaughter. But a grand jury refused to indict him.

Tensions between police and black activists have been high in recent years. Protesters blocked the Interstate 40 bridge connecting Tennessee to Arkansas in July 2016. And, the police department has been sued by prominent activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups who claim police conducted illegal surveillance against them.

Rallings said any officers found to have violated policy would be held accountable.

“I will get answers,” Rallings said.

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