Memphis, TN – The family of a man who fatally shot himself in the head during a traffic stop in 2018 has alleged that Memphis police were actually the ones responsible for his death (video below).
"Some kind of way, justice has to come out of this. Not just for my son…but for all the mothers that are out here and their children are being slaughtered in the streets," the suspect’s mother, Sheila Perkins, told the Commercial Appeal.
The incident occurred on July 25, 2018, after Memphis Police Officer David Reinke and Officer Brandon Barnes pulled 29-year-old D’Mario Perkins over for a traffic violation, the Commercial Appeal reported.
The officers approached D’Mario’s vehicle, and explained that the license plates on his car were not registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, bodycam footage showed.
The officer then asked him for his license and insurance information.
But instead of handing over the documents, D’Mario apologized to the officer and told him that he wanted to kill himself, the video showed.
“What’s that?” the officer asked, as the suspect repeated himself.
That’s when the officer realized D’Mario had a handgun.
“Gun! Gun!” the officer alerted, jumping backwards away from the suspect’s car. “Drop the weapon!”
A barrage of gunfire rang out as the officers scrambled back towards their patrol vehicle and radioed for assistance, the video showed.
An officer moved back towards the car a moment later, and announced that the driver was dead.
“Subject shot himself,” the officer said over the radio. “He’s dead as far as I can tell. Start me up an ambulance. Start me up a supervisor.”
“He shot himself in the head,” he told a fellow officer standing nearby.
Neither of the officers were wounded during the officer-involved shooting, the Commercial Appeal reported.
The medical examiner later determined that D’Mario fatally shot himself in the head before he was shot by the officers nine times, and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against the officers, according to the Commercial Appeal.
But the Perkins family disputed the medical examiner’s findings, and argued that D’Mario was not suicidal because he had just welcomed his third child into the world two days earlier, WMC reported.
They said he was pulled over as he was heading to the store to get supplies for his newborn son.
“I feel like wrong has been done to my son and his family,” Sheila told WMC. “If we don’t be down here on these criminal justice steps, hollering and screaming for justice for our children, it’s going to continue to happen.”
"Where are the black pastors, where are the black leaders, where are the black activists in our neighborhoods and our communities that continue to let these things happen and only speak up for a few but not for the many?" she asked the Commercial Appeal.
Sheila argued that if her son’s death was actually a suicide, the officers should have done more to stop him.
"If they consider it to be a suicide, then what was the police protocol on that type of incident?” she asked the Commercial Appeal. “Why didn't they call in the crisis intervention?”
Blue Lives Matter consulted experts who noted that crisis intervention techniques are generally ineffective on people who are deceased.
The family launched a GoFundMe page in the wake of D’Mario’s suicide to help pay for a second medical examiner to review the case. The fund has raised $129 since Aug. 29.
Officer Barnes has returned to full duties with the Memphis Police Department (MPD), the Commercial Appeal reported.
Officer Reinke has since left MPD to go to work for the police force in his hometown.
You can watch bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with D’Mario in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content.