Tyre Nichols

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Four ex-cops charged in Tyre Nichols' death barred from working in law enforcement
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jonathan Mattise
Published Mar 24, 2023 • 2 minute read

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Four of five former Memphis police officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who was handcuffed, brutally beaten and ignored by first responders for crucial minutes despite being barely conscious, can no longer work as law enforcement in Tennessee.


The Peace Officer Standards & Training Commission, or P.O.S.T., voted Friday to decertify Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith. The state panel also approved the decision by Desmond Mills to surrender his certification.


The former officers have 30 days to appeal.

The beating of the 29-year-old Black man happened during a late-night traffic stop Jan. 7. The commission subsequently released documents showing that Haley dragged Nichols from his vehicle and never explained why he was stopped, and that he also took photos of Nichols slumped against the car after he was pummeled by officers and sent the pictures to colleagues.

Nichols died at a hospital Jan. 10.

Early police accounts minimized the violence of the traffic stop — accounts since disproven by witness statements and police and surveillance video — and their specialized 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 requested 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 attorneys attended their hearings before the commission on Thursday or its vote on Friday.

Mills’ attorney said his client had been wrongly indicted and was “focusing on his freedom.”

“It’s a waste of time,” attorney Blake Ballin said of the decertification attempt. “It is meaningless to him at this stage in his life.”

An attorney 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 file seeking his decertification, Smith defended his conduct, stating that Nichols was “violent and would not comply.”

The fifth former officer charged, Tadarrius Bean, has not yet had his decertification hearing before the commission. Neither have two former officers who were not charged: Preston Hemphill, who was terminated after firing a stun gun at Nichols during the traffic stop; and Dewayne Smith, the supervising lieutenant who arrived on scene after the beating, who retired instead of being fired.

A seventh police employee who was fired has not been publicly named.

During Nichols’ funeral, Vice President Kamala Harris urged lawmakers to approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a broad package of reforms that includes a national registry for police officers disciplined for misconduct, a ban on no-knock warrants and other measures.
 

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During Nichols’ funeral, Vice President Kamala Harris urged lawmakers to approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a broad package of reforms that includes a national registry for police officers disciplined for misconduct, a ban on no-knock warrants and other measures.
George Floyd was a piece of shit. The world is a better place without him.
 

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Tyre Nichols died of blunt force injuries, autopsy shows
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adrain Sainz
Published May 04, 2023 • 2 minute read

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tyre Nichols died of blunt force injuries to the head after he was beaten by Memphis police during a January arrest, an autopsy report released Thursday showed.


The autopsy said the manner of death was homicide. It described multiple contusions, brain injuries, cuts and bruises to the head and other parts of the body.


Nichols was Black, as were the five police officers fired and charged with second-degree murder and other counts after his death. They pleaded not guilty Feb. 17.

Nichols was stopped by police Jan. 7 for an alleged traffic violation and was aggressively pulled out of his car by officers. An officer shot at Nichols with a stun gun, but Nichols ran away toward his nearby home, according to video footage released by the city of Memphis and other police records.

Officers who were part of a crime-suppression team known as Scorpion caught up with Nichols and punched him, kicked him and slugged him with a baton as he yelled for his mother.


After the beating, officers stood by and talked with one another as Nichols struggled with his injuries while he was on the ground, video showed. One officer also took photos of Nichols as he was propped up against an unmarked police car, video and other records showed.

Nichols was taken to a hospital in an ambulance that left the site of the beating 27 minutes after emergency medical technicians arrived, authorities said.

Nichols, 29, died three days later. His funeral was held Feb. 1.

Police said Nichols had been suspected of reckless driving, but no verified evidence of a traffic violation has emerged in public documents or in video footage, and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has said she has seen no evidence justifying the stop or the officers’ response. She disbanded the Scorpion unit after Nichols’ death.


In addition to the five Black officers fired and charged with murder, one white officer who was involved in the initial traffic stop has been fired. That officer will not face charges for his role in Nichols’ death. Another officer who has not been identified also has been fired. An additional officer retired before he could be fired.

Three Memphis Fire Department employees who were at the site of the arrest have been fired. Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies who also were there were suspended.

Nichols’ family, their lawyers, community leaders and activists have called for changes within the Memphis Police Department concerning issues related to traffic stops, use of force, improving transparency and other policies. The city council has passed an ordinance ending traffic stops based solely on a single secondary violation, such as an improperly places license tag.

Nichols’ mother has filed a $550 million federal lawsuit against the city, the police department and police chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis. The city has declined comment on the lawsuit.
 
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DOJ announces investigation of Memphis police practices after Tyre Nichols death
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adrian Sainz
Published Jul 27, 2023 • 2 minute read

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday it is investigating the patterns or practices of the police department in Memphis, Tennessee, seven months after the violent beating of Tyre Nichols by five officers after a traffic stop.


Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division made the announcement in Memphis. The investigative tool can look collectively at an agency’s stops, searches, or arrests; use of excessive force; possible discriminatory policing; potential violations of suspects’ constitutional rights; and more.


Clarke said the probe will look into the city and its police department. She mentioned Nichols’ death, but said the investigation is not based on a single event, or a single unit with the police agency.

The five officers have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges including second-degree murder in the Jan. 7 beating of Nichols after a traffic stop — and his death three days later. Caught on police video, the beating of the 29-year-old Nichols was one in a string of violent encounters between police and Black people that sparked protests and renewed debate about police brutality and police reform in the U.S.


The five officers charged in the case are Black. So was Nichols.

The officers were part of a crime-suppression team known as Scorpion. They punched Nichols, kicked him and slugged him with a baton as he yelled for his mother. The police chief disbanded the Scorpion unit after Nichols’ death.

In addition to the officers fired and charged with murder, one white officer who was involved in the initial traffic stop has been fired. That officer will not face charges. Another officer, who has not been identified, also has been fired. An additional officer retired before he could be fired.

Three Memphis Fire Department emergency medical technicians were fired for failing to render aid to Nichols. Two Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies who went to the location after the beating were suspended for five days for policy violations.


In June, a similar Department of Justice probe alleged that Minneapolis police systematically discriminated against racial minorities, violated constitutional rights and disregarded the safety of people in custody for years before George Floyd was killed.

And in March, the department found Louisville police engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discrimination against the Black community following an investigation prompted by the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

The investigations can take years — both the Louisville and Minneapolis probes were launched in April 2021.

Depending on their findings, the investigations can result in agreements that require reforms that are overseen by an independent monitor and are approved by a federal judge. The federal oversight can continue for years.
 

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Former Memphis cop pleads guilty to charges in Tyre Nichols’ death: Prosecutor

Author of the article:
Associated Press
Associated Press
Jonathan Mattise
Published Nov 02, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A former Memphis police officer pleaded guilty Thursday in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in exchange for prosecutors recommending a 15-year sentence, becoming the first of five officers charged in the case to admit guilt.


Desmond Mills Jr. entered his plea during a hearing at the Memphis federal courthouse as part of a larger agreement under which he will also plead guilty to related charges in state court. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the other officers would follow suit. Attorneys for three of the officers declined to comment and William Massey, the lawyer for Emmitt Martin, said in a text message that they “will stay the course” with the former officer’s criminal defense.


Mills pleaded guilty to federal charges of excessive force and obstruction of justice and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. The final sentencing decision rests with the judge. Mills remains free on bail ahead of his May 22 sentencing hearing.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, shook as she described hearing how five large men beat her skinny son.


“This one today was very difficult for me because this was really the first time I actually heard somebody tell and say what they actually did to my son,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. “So, this was very difficult. But I’m hoping that Mr. Mills, it was his conscience that allowed him to make this plea agreement, and not because of his lawyers telling him it was the right thing to do.”

Caught on police video, the beating of Nichols in January was one in a string of violent encounters between police and Black people that sparked protests and renewed debate about police brutality and the need for police reform in the U.S. The five former officers who were charged also are Black.

Mills and four other former Memphis Police Department officers were charged in federal court with using excessive force, failing to intervene, deliberate indifference and conspiring to lie, as well as obstruction of justice after they were caught on camera punching, kicking and beating Nichols on Jan. 7. He died three days later.


The five — Mills, Martin, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley and Justin Smith — pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in state court. Mills is the first to agree to plead guilty.

Nichols’ mother and her husband said the possibility of 15 years in prison is “a start.” Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, noted that Mills has a family, with three children 6 years old and younger.

“Fifteen years is a long time with no parole,” Rodney Wells said at the news conference. “That’s going to affect his family, that’s going to affect him.”



Blake Ballin, Mills’ defense attorney, told reporters that Mills “understands he did something wrong and he’s taking responsibility for it.” Ballin added that there’s “overwhelming evidence of the guilt of people involved here,” and if authorities need Mills to testify at a possible trial, he will.


Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Mills’ cooperation “probably would incentivize” the other officers to consider plea deals too. Mills will also cooperate in the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the Memphis Police Department, which Mulroy said should lead to systemic reform.

Mulroy said the defendants hold “different levels of responsibility” in Nichols’ death and that Mills “is not the worst of the five” officers charged.

Ben Crump, the attorney for Nichols’ family, said Mills’ decision continues the “sea change” witnessed after George Floyd’s death, when the Minneapolis police chief testified during former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that he had violated departmental policy, values and principles.


“The precedent that’s being set now — police officers tell the truth, even if that means piercing the blue veil,” Crump told reporters.

The plea agreement sets out Mills’ role in the fatal beating, detailing how he pepper-sprayed Nichols three times before pulling out a baton and yelling, “I’m about to baton the (expletive) out of you.” He repeatedly struck Nichols, who was on the ground and surrounded by officers, never giving him an opportunity to comply with the command, “give us your hands!”

After the beating, Mills and the other officers failed to tell the responding medics that they had beaten Nichols, instead saying he was on drugs. Meanwhile, among themselves they discussed “taking turns hitting Nichols, hitting Nichols with straight haymakers, and everybody rocking Nichols. During these conversations, the officers discussed hitting Nichols to make him fall and observed that when Nichols did not fall from these blows, they believed they were ’about to kill’ him,” according to the plea agreement.


Martin used hand signals to indicate to Mills that his body camera was still recording. Mills removed the camera and placed it on the back of a patrol car.

Mills told supervisors at the scene that he knew Nichols was in bad shape and he “expressed concerns about Nichols’ survival,” according to the agreement. When the five officers spoke later, they discussed what the body camera recording might show and conspired to mislead investigators. That included agreeing not to report that Martin had repeatedly struck Nichols in the head.

After Nichols’ death, all five officers were fired from the department and the crime-suppression team they were part of was disbanded. The four remaining officers have a May 6 trial date in federal court. A trial has not yet been set in state court.

The officers said they pulled Nichols over because he was driving recklessly, but Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ’ Davis said no evidence was found to support that allegation. Nichols ran from officers, who tried to restrain him. He pleaded for his mother as he was pummeled just steps from his home.

An autopsy report showed Nichols died from blows to the head, and that the manner of death was homicide. The report described brain injuries, cuts and bruises to the head and other parts of the body.
 

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Hours of additional video show what officers did and said after fatal beating of Tyre Nichols
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adrian Sainz, Jonathan Mattise And Travis Loller
Published Jan 30, 2024 • 5 minute read
Tyre Nichols
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was pulled over while driving and died three days later, sits against a police car after being beaten by Memphis Police Department officers on January 7, 2023. PHOTO BY MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT /Handout via REUTERS
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — About 21 hours of newly released video and audio are revealing more about what first responders including the five fired police officers charged in the violent beating death of Tyre Nichols did and said the night Nichols was pulled over and mortally injured.


The dozens of recordings were made public Tuesday by Memphis city officials based on a state judge’s order, which came down the same day that former officer Desmond Mills Jr. pleaded guilty in November to federal charges in the case that sparked outrage around the world and intensified calls for police reform. City officials also plan to release additional written documents in two weeks.


Mills also intends to plead guilty in state court and could testify against his four ex-colleagues — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith — who remain charged with civil rights violations in federal court and second-degree murder and other offenses in state court. They have pleaded not guilty.

The recordings released Tuesday add hours of context to the police video released weeks after the traffic stop, which showed the five officers beating Nichols as he yelled for his mother, steps from his house. The new material shows what officers and others did and said before, during and after the beating.


Much of their comments suggest officers and paramedics appeared fixated with the idea that he was high on drugs. Medics administered Naloxone to reverse a potential opioid overdose as Nichols slouched, unresponsive, after officers propped him up against a car. One emergency medical technician even claimed, “He’s not injured. He’s just high.”

Nichols’ autopsy later detected only low levels of alcohol and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system.

As for what prompted the traffic stop, Bean’s bodycam recorded another officer saying that Nichols “drove into oncoming traffic” and “swerved like he’s going to hit my car” after they turned on sirens and ordered him to stop. But the same officer also said Nichols “stopped at the red light and put his turn signal on.”


The officer said they got out to pursue him and that’s apparently when Nichols fled on foot towards his home, to where the beating would occur, less than a block from his front door.

Other officers recorded themselves saying Nichols had tried to grab an officer’s gun, which none of the videos clearly show, and that he resisted arrest, even though Nichols appeared to be complying with their commands.

Later, some officers appeared perplexed that no drugs were in the car Nichols was driving. One suggested he could have thrown something while he was running.

Mills’ body camera also recorded how he and his superior officer spoke to Nichols’ mother and stepfather. When the stepfather answered the door and asked what Nichols is in custody for, Lt. Dewayne Smith appeared not to know until Mills said “DUI.” Then the lieutenant repeated “DUI.”


The police chief later said the department couldn’t substantiate any reason for the traffic stop.

“I’m trying to find out if you know him to take any kind of drugs or narcotics or anything,” the lieutenant said. When Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, answered “no,” he said, “because he appeared to be on something other than alcohol.”

Wells then said Nichols smokes a little marijuana, and Lt. Smith responded: “He on something more than marijuana.”

Wells then tried repeatedly to learn where her son was, but the lieutenant was evasive, saying he is “with the paramedics” and “they got him a little ways from here” and “he’s in the neighborhood.” Finally he told her, “He’s going to go to jail after he gets some medical treatment.”


As they walked away, Mills told the lieutenant he believed the parents “know more than what they are saying” and seemed suspicious because they didn’t open their screen door. Then he said, “I just hope … he just needs to make it, that’s all. He needs to make it. He ain’t looking too good.”

Dewayne Smith, who is not facing criminal charges, retired before police would have fired him.

About an hour after officers pulled Nichols from his car, a woman saying she was Nichols’ mother showed up, along with another man, at the intersection of the initial traffic stop and started asking Officer Preston Hemphill what happened.

When Hemphill said Nichols fought with officers, the mother sounded incredulous.

“My son? Not Tyre,” she said, later adding, “That don’t sound like my son. I’m sorry, sir.”


Hemphill fired his stun gun during the traffic stop but didn’t follow Nichols to where other officers pummeled him. Hemphill was fired but isn’t facing criminal charges.

Attorneys for Nichols’ family said they are reviewing the additional video, but expect it will “affirm what we have said from day one: that there was absolutely no justification for the officers’ brutal and inhumane actions.”

“We will continue our unflinching look at this tragedy and stand strongly with Tyre’s family in their continued grief and fight for justice,” attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a news release.

The Associated Press requested comments from attorneys for the former officers facing charges. Attorneys for Mills and Justin Smith declined to comment.


Nichols died in a hospital Jan. 10, 2023 three days after he was kicked, punched and hit with a police baton.

Nichols was Black. The five officers also are Black. The four who remain charged face federal trial in May and state court trial in August.

Following the January 2023 release of police body camera and pole camera footage, the city had planned to release about 20 more hours of video, audio and documents including the officers’ personnel files, but the judge granted the defense’s motion for a delay “until such time as the state and the defendants have reviewed this information.”

A coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, cited the First Amendment in pressing to have them made public. Lawyers for the former officers argued that their rights to a fair trial must be recognized and protected.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened a “patterns and practices” investigation into how Memphis Police Department officers use force and conduct arrests, and whether the department in the majority-Black city engages in racially discriminatory policing.

In March, the Justice Department announced a separate review concerning use of force, de-escalation strategies and specialized units in the Memphis Police Department. Also, Nichols’ mother has sued the city and its police chief over her son’s death.
MEMPHIS-POLICE-2023-05-04[1].jpg
 

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Witness thought Tyre Nichols was already dead at scene of police beating
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adrian Sainz
Published Feb 14, 2024 • 4 minute read
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In this image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the city of Memphis, Tenn., Tyre Nichols leans against a car after a brutal attack by five Memphis Police officers on Jan. 7, in Memphis. PHOTO BY CITY OF MEMPHIS /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis on Wednesday released hundreds of pages of documents tied to the January 2023 fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by five police officers, including an account from a witness who saw Nichols slumped on the pavement and thought he was already dead.


The latest documents include personnel files for Memphis police and fire department employees who were fired after the beating. They also include internal police investigation files, a witness statement and emails between city and police officials about the beating.


Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died in a hospital Jan. 10, 2023, three days after the beating. All five of the officers who were charged in his killing are also Black.

Police spoke with a witness who lived in the neighborhood where the beating took place and shot video and photos of the scene. The witness said she saw Nichols lying on the ground, according to a transcript of the conversation.

“Dude wasn’t budging … I was like, ‘Oh my god, I think he’s dead,”‘ the witness said.


The witness said an officer then removed Nichols’ handcuffs and an emergency medical technician approached. At that point, it was clear something was wrong.

“The EMT guy lifts his hand, it falls,” the witness said. “It like fell real hard.”

The witness added: “It just bothered me that everybody was standing out in the street. Had no care in the world that this guy was laying here.” Previously released video shows officers and other first responders milling about and talking among themselves as Nichols lay slumped on the ground.

The documents also disclose the names of five other officers who violated department policies but were not fired.

Meanwhile, personnel files for Lt. Dewayne Smith, the supervisor on scene who was allowed to retire before he could be fired, show he had been arrested in 1999 in a domestic violence incident involving his wife and stepchildren. Documents show Smith’s wife called 911 saying he was intoxicated, armed with his service weapon and threatening her children. Investigators said they couldn’t determine if Smith had actually pulled his weapon. He was encouraged to seek counseling and placed on a 15-day suspension.


Nearly a year later, an unnecessary violence complaint was made against Smith after witnesses said he struck a man who ran from officers.

Dewayne Smith’s lawyer in the federal lawsuit did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

An initial incident report for Nichols’ arrest, included among the latest documents, reasserts many of the now-disproven claims of the officers who were fired and charged.

It claims that after stopping Nichols for driving in the wrong lane into oncoming traffic, he became combative, was sweating profusely and grabbed for an officer’s gun, prompting another officer to attempt to shock Nichols with his Taser. Videos released in the days after Nichols’ death and statements from Memphis Police officials have debunked much of that narrative.


The report also states that once the officers caught up to Nichols on foot, he grabbed for their vests and service belts, and that officers responded by spraying him with a chemical agent, striking his right arm with a baton, and arresting him. Videos show a starkly different encounter — an almost 3-minute barrage of fists, feet and baton strikes to Nichols’ face, head, front and back, as he yells for his mother about a block from his home.

A state judge ordered the release of the documents in November on the same day that former officer Desmond Mills Jr. pleaded guilty to federal charges in Nichols’ death.

A coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, pressed for more information to be made public, citing the First Amendment. That led to the release of a further 21 hours of video and audio on Jan. 30 this year. The video and audio added hours of context and revealed more about the first responders’ actions and statements that night.


The city had already released some documents last year detailing the personnel records of the officers involved in Nichols’ death. The city said Wednesday that with the latest release they have made public all documents related to the court order.

“We understand the importance of releasing these documents to the public. This release represents our commitment to transparency,” Mayor Paul Young said in a statement.

Mills also intends to plead guilty to criminal charges in state court and could be called to testify against his four former colleagues — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith — who remain charged with federal civil rights violations and second-degree murder and other criminal counts in state court. They have pleaded not guilty.


Their federal trial is set for Sept. 9. The state court court trial has been scheduled for Aug. 12, but that date could change.

Two other Memphis officers were fired for their involvement. Two emergency medical technicians and a fire lieutenant were also fired for failing to provide adequate aid.

The U.S. Department of Justice opened a “patterns and practices” investigation into how Memphis Police Department officers use force and conduct arrests, and whether the department in the majority-Black city engages in racially discriminatory policing.

In March, the Justice Department announced a separate review concerning use of force, de-escalation strategies and specialized units in the Memphis Police Department. Also, Nichols’ mother has sued the city and its police chief over her son’s death.
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