Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, a longtime criminal defense lawyer who is seeking re-election, has pressed for outside investigations of fatal police-involved shootings, saying there is a worrisome perception both locally and nationally that police and prosecutors are too close. Since 2009, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis police officers have fatally shot 24 suspects. Twenty-two of them were ruled justifiable homicides. Two cases from this year remain under investigation. A majority of the cases reviewed by the newspaper involve white officers killing black suspects.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich and her predecessor, Bill Gibbons, reviewed each case and declined prosecution. None of the cases was presented to a grand jury. Weirich said each shooting was labeled justifiable because the state's self-defense law gives broad latitude to any citizen or police officer to “protect themselves against deadly force.” She added that, “The same law that gives a homeowner, a shop owner or a regular citizen the right to defend themselves also protects officers.”