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Memphis Police Refute Claims After Shooting

Relatives of the man shot and killed by police last week believe a video taken shortly after the shooting calls into question the officers' account of what happened.

Memphis Police Department officials called a news conference Tuesday, however, to refute claims made by the family of Steven Askew and their attorney.

Askew, 24, was shot and killed just before 10 p.m. last Thursday by MPD officers Ned Aufdenkamp, 30, and Matthew Dyess, 31, while he sat in his car in an apartment complex in the 3100 block of Tyrol Court in Southeast Memphis.

According to police, officers were responding to a complaint of loud music in that area. Although they didn't find the source of the noise, the officers said they continued searching the area and found Askew either asleep or unconscious inside a 1995 Crown Victoria. The officers said they saw a handgun inside the car. Askew had a legal permit to carry a gun, police confirmed Tuesday.

At that point, the officers knocked on the windows and "began giving verbal commands to the subject," police said.

According to police, Askew acknowledged their presence, but still armed himself with the gun and pointed at them. Both officers fired, but police wouldn't say how many shots hit Askew. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to attorney Howard Manis, representing the family, a cellphone video taken by a resident calls that into question.

"We believe it shows three additional shots fired into the car by police, at least 45 seconds or longer after the first shots were fired," said Manis, adding that Askew was waiting on his girlfriend to arrive back at the complex. "I think it goes to possibly the intent of the officers. We have concerns for the need for additional shots that long afterward."

The video has not been made available to the media, but MPD Director Toney Armstrong has seen it, he said in the press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"I have reviewed this video and did not view such events to occur. There is a loud noise but it is not indicative of gunfire," Armstrong said, adding that he based that statement on his 24 years of experience. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Steven Askew in their time of loss."

The officers, both of whom are assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station, have been routinely relieved of duty with pay. Aufdenkamp has been with MPD since July 2007 while Dyess joined in June 2010.

Askew's only criminal offense was a misdemeanor arrest for disorderly conduct in July 2010. That record was later expunged.

Police also released the name of the officer involved in the first police shooting this year. On Jan. 11, Officer Phillip Penny, 36, fatally shot and killed Don Moore at the victim's Cordova home. Penny has also been relieved of duty with pay.

Moore was the subject of an investigation into possible animal cruelty as well as an apparent hoarder. Police said he pointed a weapon at officers.

Copyright 2013 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service