Five Memphis police officers involved in a traffic stop that led to the hospitalization and subsequent death of a 29-year-old man were fired Friday night.
The police department said in a statement that the two-and-a-half- to five-year-old officers violated several department policies, including use of force, failure to render aid and duty to intervene. Tire D. Nichols of Memphis died three days after the traffic stop.
“Earlier today, each officer charged was suspended from the Memphis Police Department,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said in a written statement. “The horror of this incident does not reflect the good work that our officers honestly do every day.”
The charges mentioned by Davis are internal, department charges, not criminal.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired Friday night. They have worked in the department since 2020 respectively. August 2020 August 2018 March 2017 March. and in 2018 March.
The officers were fired after a nearly two-week internal investigation into possible policy violations during traffic stops.
“Seeing their faces makes me angry,” said Keyana Dixon, Nichols’ older sister. “I’m trying to hold it in, but my heart has been ripped out. It’s torture.
Jamal Dupree, one of Nichols’ older brothers, and Angelina Paxton, one of Nichols’ longtime friends, said they both felt let down by the officers involved.
“Knowing the history of police interactions with the black community, these men took power and instead of doing something to improve the future and honor the past, they became no better than the days of Emmett Till,” Dupree and Paxton said. said in a joint statement. “They have let us all down. Justice will be served.”
Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was pulled over in a traffic stop.
According to a Memphis Police Department report, officers pulled Nichols over on Jan. 7 around 8:30 p.m., and a “confrontation” ensued. Nichols eventually fled, but was later arrested. Officers said there was another “confrontation” at that time, but he had already been taken into custody.
It was after that that police said Nichols was “complaining of shortness of breath” and was taken to St. Franciscus Hospital in critical condition.
An image of Nichols shared with the public shortly after his death showed an intubated Nichols. His face was disfigured by many spots. His nose was almost bent into an ‘s’ shape. There was blood on his intubation tube and hospital sheets.
Family members of Nichols said he suffered multiple injuries, including kidney failure and brain swelling. He was connected to a dialysis machine before he died, said Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather.
The officers were placed on leave while the city and police department launched an internal investigation. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was immediately called to the “use of force” stop by officers from the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office.
A little more than a week after Nichols’ death, a federal investigation will be announced, and the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI’s Memphis office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division have said they are investigating possible civil rights violations by the officers.
The response from state officials, including Davis, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, was to urge the public to be patient as the internal investigation unfolds.
The family and members of the public have demanded transparency, including the immediate release of any footage captured during the traffic stop.
The footage is expected to be released as early as Monday, but will be reviewed by Nichols’ family first before being released to the public, according to a city spokeswoman. The initial announcement that the footage would be made public came minutes before Nichols’ memorial service.
The family also demanded that all officers involved be charged with “one-man murder,” Wells said at the memorial service.
Nichols was remembered by friends and family as someone who “lighted up a room” when he walked in. Paxton said Nichols died “dark” for someone who had “so much light.”
Lucas Finton is a news reporter for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.