- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A Memphis police officer who was cleared of criminal charges in the shooting death of a 19-year-old man is retiring, a move that allows him to collect disability pay and avoid an administrative hearing that could have resulted in his firing, officials said Thursday.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s office said Officer Connor Schilling’s retirement is effective Friday. Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen said the “line of duty disability retirement” was granted by the city’s pension board, based on the recommendation of two doctors.

Schilling, who had been on the police force for three years and nine months, will receive $1,138.19 twice each month, the statement said.

Authorities said Schilling shot Darrius Stewart as they fought when the officer tried to arrest the teen on two active warrants during a July 17 traffic stop. Schilling is white, and Stewart was black.

Stewart’s family issued a statement saying they are outraged at the fact Schilling can receive disability payments.



“This is a second slap in the face for a family who was devastated when they discovered how Darrius died at the hands of this police officer,” the statement said.

Schilling was not charged with any crime by a grand jury despite a recommendation from Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, who reviewed an 800-page report on the shooting by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Weirich recommended an indictment against Schilling for voluntary manslaughter and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

The shooting happened in the months after police shootings across the nation sparked sharp debate on use of force and racial profiling. It led to peaceful rallies and vigils in Memphis, and activists called for Schilling’s firing. The shooting is being reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department.

Schilling had faced an administrative hearing last November on police department violations related to radio procedures and handcuffing techniques, interim police chief Michael Rallings said Thursday. The hearing, which stemmed from Schilling’s actions during the traffic stop and confrontation with Stewart, was postponed after it was revealed that Schilling was under a doctor’s care.

The administrative hearing will not take place due to Schilling’s retirement. The punishments Schilling could have faced ranged from a written reprimand to being fired from the force, Rallings said.

“It is my job to make sure that all investigations, both criminal and administrative, are handled properly and accurately. Officer Schilling’s case was no different,” Rallings told reporters at a news conference. “Our administration was thorough with this review, and was prepared to move forward with the administrative hearing.”

Schilling’s condition has not been released. Rallings declined to comment on whether the condition stemmed from the Stewart shooting, or if it existed before then.

“The City of Memphis pension ordinance allows this type of retirement, when two independent doctors find an employee to be disabled emotionally or physically,” the statement from the mayor’s office said.

During the news conference, Rallings also said there have been 60 homicides in the city of Memphis so far this year.

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