Memphis residents are outraged over a Monday night shooting that left a 15-year-old teenager dead at the hands of an off-duty police officer.
Justin Thompson was fatally shot and killed after an off-duty police officer claimed the teen and his brother tried to rob him.
The Memphis Police Department did not immediately release information about the shooting leaving the family and residents suspicious.
This suspension along with other undisclosed information prompted the Tennessee Investigation Bureau to step in and investigate.
The teen’s family said Justin left his home that evening with his brother to go to the store. A neighbor recalled hearing gunshots and saw the teen run across several neighborhood yards while yelling for someone to call an ambulance before he collapsed. Four bullet holes were found in the carport of a vacant house 100 yards from Justin’s home.
The teen’s mother Shirley Thompson watched from her porch as emergency responders and police arrived to the scene not knowing that her son was the victim. Their family just moved into the area in June.
“I stood there and watched my son die on the scene,” his mother said.
The teen was a freshman at Southeast Prep Academy.
“(Justin) was a sweet boy,” she said. “He didn’t bother nobody. He didn’t start fights. He stayed at the house and talked on the phone, and sometimes he played basketball.”
In a press conference, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton said he is dedicated to holding the officers accountable for their actions in the incident as well as the department for withholding the information. Wharton admitted that he knew more details about the investigation, but said he could not speak on it at that time.
“I have to stand here knowing that I know, but there are some procedures (so) I can’t say what I know,” Wharton said. “That perplexes me.”
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong reported that the officer involved in the shooting has been relieved of his duties with pay as the investigation continues.
Wharton expressed that he is outraged over the repeated offenses of misconduct involving the police department and city government officials.
Last week, federal charges were filed against another Memphis police officer accused of transporting prostitutes between Memphis and Tunica. Since 2003, over 40 Memphis police officers and departmental employees have faced charges in a variety of crimes.
“With respect to discipline, in those cases when it’s found that an officer particularly, but also any employee, has run afoul of the law or (police department) policy, that even minor infractions will not be tolerated,” Wharton said.
The Memphis Black Autonomy Federation said they are fed up with the corruption inside the Memphis Police Department and their continual misuse of deadly force.
“The Memphis Police Department has a culture of violence and corruption, which has resulted in the deaths of nine people so far this year, including Justin Thompson. His death is a result of the criminalization of black youth by politicians and cops,” the organization wrote in a public statement condemning the murder.
The MBAF is inviting residents to rally together at the city council meeting on Tuesday, October 2 at City Hall to address the violations against the civil rights of citizens. The organization said they will continue to hold demonstrations at government offices across the city until justice is served for Thompson and others who have been killed at the hands of police officers.