MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Five officers involved in the arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who died three days after the altercation, have been fired, the Memphis Police Department announced on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired, MPD announced Friday.
In 2016, an inmate at the penal farm filed a federal civil rights complaint against Haley, claiming that Haley and two other officers strip-searched him and beat him until he blacked out.
That lawsuit was later dropped.
In a statement, MPD said that the officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid.
“The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city,” MPD said in a statement. “The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day.”
Police announced the firings about 6:30 p.m. Friday, nearly two weeks after Nichols’ arrest.
Bean and Haley were hired in August 2020, Martin and Smith were hired in March 2018 and Mills was hired in March 2017, MPD said.
The firings came after an employment investigation hearing which was the end of the Memphis Police Department’s internal investigation into the officers’ actions.
Ben Crump, the nationally renowned civil rights attorney representing Nichols’ family, said the officers “must also be held accountable” in Tyre’s death. His full statement is below:
“We join Tyre’s family in supporting the Department’s decision to terminate the five officers who brutalized him, ultimately causing his death. This is the first step towards achieving justice for Tyre and his family. They must also be held accountable for robbing this man of his life and his son of a father. In the coming days, we will review the video footage from this violent attack…providing the family and community more clarity into what led to the loss of this young man, father, and son. We will continue to demand transparency and accountability in this case, and will not stop until we achieve full justice for Tyre and his family.”
Any criminal charges which may or may not come as a result of what the Memphis Police Department described as “confrontations” between those officers and Nichols would be announced at a later time.
Nichols was originally pulled over by Memphis Police on Jan. 7, 2023, for reckless driving, the Memphis Police Department said.
Officers said that Nichols ran, leading to the two confrontations between those officers and Nichols and eventually his arrest in which those Memphis Police officers showed “use of force”, according to the Memphis Police Department.
After those confrontations, Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a Memphis hospital, the Memphis Police Department said.
Nichols died at that hospital three days later on Jan. 10, 2023.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the “use of force” by those officers.
In a statement, the National Civil Rights Museum called Nichols’ death a civil rights issue, praised Police Chief C.J. Davis for firing the five officers and called for continued justice.
“The National Civil Rights Museum mourns another tragedy in the death of Tyre Nichols. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family fighting for justice in his killing. A killing while in police custody. A traffic stop that resulted in his death. We call for justice for Tyre Nichols. We call for continued immediacy in gathering the facts and evidence in Tyre Nichols’ death. We call for criminal accountability of the police officers who ended his life. We applaud Police Chief Cerelyn Davis for taking “immediate and appropriate action” in firing the five officers accused in the killing. We encourage Chief Davis to determine the best approach to assess past actions and history of all individual police officers for demeanor that may contribute to future deadly excessive force. The death of Tyre Nichols is a civil rights issue. As it should be, the case is now both a criminal and civil rights investigation. Our hearts remain heavy that another Black life has tragically ended. As a community, we cannot remain silent. We must seek justice for Tyre Nichols. For him. For his family. And for all who call Memphis home.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis, and Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy have all vowed to release body camera footage from the incident which resulted in the firing of those officers after Nichols’ family and attorney Ben Crump have had a chance to privately view the video.
Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, issued a statement after the officers’ firings, saying that “there is NO excuse for police brutality against our citizens.”
“I am thankful Mayor Strickland and Chief Davis took decisive action,” Akbari said. “Right now, we should support anyone who is doing the work to make sure justice prevails.”
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