Memphis officer took, shared photos of bloodied Tyre Nichols, documents show : NPR
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Documents released Tuesday provided a stark account of what authorities called the “blatantly unprofessional” conduct of five officers involved in the fatal police beating of Tire Nichols during a traffic stop last month that passed — including new revelations about how one officer took and shared photos of the bloodied victim.
The officer, Demetrius Haley, stopped Nichols while he was separated from a police car and took pictures, which Haley sent to other officers and a female acquaintance, according to documents released by the Officer Training and Standards Commission. of the Peace of Tennessee.
“Your conduct on the job was unfair, blatantly unprofessional and unbecoming of a sworn public servant,” the Memphis Police Department wrote in requesting that Haley and the other officers be decertified.
Haley’s attorney declined to comment, and attorneys for the other four officials either declined to comment or did not respond to requests from The Associated Press.
The five officers — Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith and Emmitt Martin III — were all fired and charged with second-degree murder. The new documents offer the most detailed account to date of each officer’s actions.
Another officer was also fired and seven were relieved of duty in connection with the latest police killing to spark angry protests across the country and an intense public conversation about how police officers treat Black residents.
As many as 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined, officials said Tuesday.
The newly released documents are part of a request by the Memphis Police Department that the five officers who have been charged with murder be decertified and barred from working in law enforcement again. Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis signed each of the five requests to decertify the officers.
Haley, who was driving an unmarked car and wore a black sweatshirt over his head, forced Nichols from his car using loud profanity, then sprayed him directly in the eyes with an irritating chemical spray, according to the statement.
“I never told the driver the purpose of stopping the vehicle or that he was under arrest,” she says.
Haley did not have his body camera on when he stopped Nichols but was on a phone call with someone who overheard the encounter.
Nichols ran from officers but was recaptured a few blocks away. At that point, Haley kicked him in the torso as three other officers were handcuffing him. Other officers kicked Nichols in the face, punched him or hit him with a baton. According to video captured on a utility pole camera, one of the officers appears to quickly snap a photo of Nichols on his phone as flashlights shine on him.
“You and other officers were caught on a body-worn camera making multiple unprofessional comments, laughing, bragging about your involvement,” the decertification charges against Mills said.
They added, “You admitted that you did not provide immediate medical aid and left and decontaminated yourself from a chemical irritant spray,” and went on to accuse Mills of later failing to give an accurate account of what happened to Nichols’ mother.
Martin claimed that Nichols tried to grab the officer’s gun from his holster after another officer forced him out of the vehicle, with Martin helping by grabbing Nichols’ wrist. However, the video evidence does not corroborate the claim of the weapons being seized, the documents said.
Audio from a body camera did not capture Nichols using profanity or violent threats – instead, he appeared calm and polite in his comments to officers. Meanwhile, Martin pulled Nichols out and threatened to beat him up as he commanded Nichols to put his arm behind his back.
Martin also failed to disclose in a required form that he punched Nichols in the face and kicked him several times, instead adding in his later statement to investigators that he delivered “body blows,” the documents. Video showed Martin repeatedly kicking Nichols and punching him in the face five times while two officers held Nichols’ arms.
Police considered Martin’s oral and written statements to be misleading, the charges said.
A hearing officer wrote of Justin Smith: “You admitted to hitting an unarmed, non-violent subject with a closed fist two or three times in the face because you and your partner were unable to handcuff him… You sprayed the subject with your chemical irritant spray and also held the individual’s arm while other officers kicked, punched and pepper sprayed him several times.”
In a letter from Smith included in his file, he defends his conduct, stating that Nichols was “violent and would not comply.”
Bean was accused of holding Nichols by one arm while another officer pepper sprayed him and beat him with a baton. It also notes that his indifference to Nichols’ troubles was later reported by a civilian who took video of the incident.
Nichols died three days after the beating. His family attended the State of the Union speech on Tuesday as guests of first lady Jill Biden.