4 ex-cops accused of Tire Nichols death banned from police
NASHVILLE, TN — Four of the five former Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tire Nichols, a black man who was handcuffed, brutally beaten and ignored by first responders for crucial minutes when he was barely conscious, can no longer work as forces of order in Tennessee.
Standards for Peace Officers & Training Commission, or POST, voted on Friday to decertify Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith. The state panel also approved Desmond Mills’ decision to waive his certification.
Former officers have 30 days to appeal.
The beating of the 29-year-old black man happened during a traffic stop late at night on January 7. The commission later released documents showing Haley dragged Nichols out of his vehicle and never explained why he was arrested, and that he also took pictures. de Nichols slumped against the car after being hit by officers and sent the photos to co-workers.
Nichols died in a hospital on January 10.
Early police accounts downplayed the violence of the traffic stop – accounts since refuted by witness statements and police and surveillance video – and their specialist unit was disbanded. Two Memphis Fire Department emergency medical workers and a lieutenant were also fired.
The five former police officers charged with second-degree murder have all pleaded not guilty.
The Memphis Police Department has sought the decertification of seven of the former Memphis officers involved, including one who retired before he could be fired.
None of the fired officers or their lawyers attended their hearings before the commission on Thursday or its vote on Friday.
Mills’ lawyer said his client had been wrongly charged and was “focusing on his freedom”.
“It’s a waste of time,” attorney Blake Ballin said of the decertification attempt. “It doesn’t make sense to him at this point in his life.”
A lawyer for Haley declined to comment on the decertification vote. Attorneys for Martin and Smith did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
In a letter included in the filing asking for his decertification, Smith defended his conduct, saying Nichols was “violent and would not comply.”
The fifth former officer charged, Tadarrius Bean, has yet to have his decertification hearing before the commission. Two former officers who have also not been charged: Preston Hemphill, who was fired after firing a stun gun at Nichols during the traffic stop; and Dewayne Smith, the supervising lieutenant who arrived on the scene after the beating, who retired instead of being fired.
A seventh police employee who was fired was not publicly named.
At Nichols’ funeral, Vice President Kamala Harris urged lawmakers to approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping reform package that includes a national misconduct registry of police officers, a ban on restraining warrants knocking and other measures.
Associated Press reporter Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.
For more on the Tire Nichols murder: https://apnews.com/hub/tyre-nichols