- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The chief prosecutor in Memphis asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Monday to look into a police officer’s fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man during a struggle over the weekend.

Amy Weirich, the district attorney for Shelby County, says her office has handed the investigation into the death of Darrius Stewart to the state’s police agency. A TBI spokeswoman confirmed the request and said the agency is investigating Stewart’s death at a hospital Friday night.

Authorities have not released the identity of the officer, but Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said Monday he is “Caucasian.” Stewart was black.

Police said Stewart was a passenger in a car stopped by the officer for a headlight violation. Stewart was placed in the back of a squad car without handcuffs as the officer checked on two active warrants for Stewart from Iowa and Illinois, police said.

The officer returned to the squad car to handcuff Stewart after a warrant was verified, police said. Stewart kicked the door, attacked the officer and began hitting the officer with the handcuffs, police said.

Police said the officer then shot Stewart with his duty weapon. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said Monday morning that officers were working to confirm that the warrants actually belonged to Stewart. Rudolph said officers calling in personal information during traffic stops do not have the use of photos to verify that warrants match suspects. Rudolph said the department was trying to get photos from authorities in the other states.

Later Monday, Weirich and Armstrong called a news conference to tell reporters they have asked for the outside investigation. They did not answer questions, but Armstrong did mention in his statement the deaths of black men during altercations with police officers in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.

“I’m aware that this incident is on the forefront of media coverage, and I’m equally aware of the national sentiment and appearance of this shooting - a Caucasian police officer shoots and kills an African-American male,” Armstrong said.

TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said it is not clear when the investigation will be complete. He declined comment on the warrants.

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