Officer captured on audio screaming he'll kill Bridgeville man

Officer captured on audio screaming he'll kill Bridgeville man
The state police barracks in Bridgeville. 

Note: This article contains profanity.

A video of a traffic stop early Monday near Bridgeville is circulating on social media and garnering anger at how police handled it.  

Edward Stewart began filming on his phone via Facebook Live while leading Bridgeville Police and Delaware State Police on a low-speed chase starting at the Royal Farms in Bridgeville and expressed concern that police might kill him. At one point in the video, he says he's not stopping until he gets somewhere safe.

When police eventually force him to stop, Stewart leaves the video running and officers can be heard shouting at him to get out of the car.

"Hands up! Put your fucking hands up!" one of them screams at Stewart, then shouts, "I will kill you!"

Stewart can be heard keeping his voice calm and telling officers, "I can't. I don't want to move my hands," and he later adds, "I don't want ya'll to kill me."

Some of the shares of the video tagged Bridgeville Police Department, whom Stewart identifies as his pursuers.

Watch the live broadcast

Many of the commenters on the live video expressed anger about the threat to kill Stewart, who is black.

"It's getting to the point where we as black people will have to start wearing body cams and equipment our cars with GoPro cameras just to monitor our interaction with the law enforcement, crazy world we live in," one commenter said. Another asked if officers are trained to make threats like that.

The department released a statement on Facebook Monday evening saying they were aware of the video, and though a Bridgeville officer had initiated the stop it was not that officer who was giving the commands.

"Assisting agencies have been made aware of the video," the department wrote.

The other officers involved in the pursuit were from Delaware State Police Troop 5 in Bridgeville, according to court documents.

A state police spokesperson on Thursday wrote in an email, "We are aware that there is a video, and it is being investigated. I do not have any further information to provide at this time."    

Terrance Murphy, Stewart's brother, said Thursday that the car was his. Murphy said the words on the video are imprinted in his mind and he hadn't eaten or slept in days because of the incident.

"Your job and duty is to protect and serve, not issue threats of that nature," he said of the officer, and said it was "sad, as a black man , that that's what you have to do, is go live (on Facebook)."

The police account of the incident, from the report filed by the Bridgeville officer, is that the officer was on patrol at about 12:30 a.m. when he saw a vehicle driving in the parking lot of the Royal Farms in Bridgeville dragging a gas pump handle. The officer pulled up behind the vehicle and turned on the emergency lights, and the vehicle then drove around the Royal Farms building once, then left onto Route 13.

The officer said it became apparent Stewart would not stop, at which point the officer called the dispatcher. Stewart traveled at about 35 miles per hour from Route 13 to Rifle Range Road, then onto Oak Road, then onto Route 404, sometimes swerving into the other lane, the officer said.

Stewart finally came to a stop near the intersection leading to the Coverdale community, and officers approached the car with guns drawn and "we were able to get the driver and passenger out of the vehicle and into custody with out further incident," the officer reported. The female passenger was allowed to walk home from the scene.

Police said Stewart's breath smelled of alcohol, and he had a revoked driver's license and no proof of insurance or registration. The report said Stewart admitted to having a couple of drinks earlier in the evening. The officer said a knife was found in the car.

According to court documents, he was charged with possessing a deadly weapon (the knife) during the commission of a felony, driving under the influence, property damage for the gas pump, resisting arrest, driving with a revoked license and more.

Terrance Murphy, Stewart's brother, said Thursday that all the charges had been dropped except the DUI. Murphy said he explained to authorities that the knife was his.

He said that night they had gone to Ocean City and had a good time, and Murphy had too much to drink to drive home. So, he said, he gave his keys to his brother and stayed the night in a hotel.

The next day, he said, he got a message there had been a chase in the his car, but he still didn't know anything about the Facebook Live broadcast. When he went to see his brother, Bridgeville Police explained it wasn't them making the comments on the video, which Murphy still hadn't seen. Murphy said he also kept getting calls asking if his brother was OK.

He questioned the police account that Stewart had driven on a number of different roads, saying Stewart was headed to his father's house in Coverdale, which is straight down 404 from Royal Farms.

He also said his brother has paranoid schizophrenia, and knew police didn't like him.

That seems backed up by a statement in the video, when one of the officers searching the car and apparently unaware of the livestream, says, "This is the one person I didn't want to arrest right here. Oh, I absolutely hate this guy."

Stewart has charges from other incidents, and Murphy said he was on probation at the time of the stop.

Court documents show Stewart had a public defender for the charges related to the stop. Murphy said they are pondering their legal options, but have not yet retained a lawyer for action related to how police responded.  

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