The first day the news broke about a fatal traffic stop in Memphis, we lacked proper details as to how Tyre Nichols ended up on a breathing machine over a DUI. Now, every news outlet is following the case as information from the police department and his family unravel the incident further.
But to be honest, a lot of this ish don’t add up. Let’s go through 12 crucial reasons why.
Now ex-Memphis officer Preston Hemphill, the one white cop investigated i the Tyre Nichols beating, had been on paid administrative leave since the beginning of the investigation. However, Nichols’ family and their attorneys questioned why it took so long for him to be fired or for the public to even discover his involvement when the Black officers involved had already been fired and charged.
According to The Commercial Appeal, Hemphill was recorded on bodycam pulling out his stun gun during the first interaction with Nichols and was also equipped with two personally owned pairs of handcuffs - a clear department violation. Hemphill was also recorded saying “I hope they stomp his ass,” after Nichols fled.
Hemphill is also alleged to have drawn his gun upon approaching Nichols’ vehicle.
One of the officer charged, Demetrius Haley, admitted to taking two pictures of Nichols’ beaten body on his personal cellphone and sending them to up to six people, reports say. Two of the people who received the images were also Memphis police officers.
Any other content of the messages had not been disclosed but the act of photographing this incident is shameful enough. Maybe he wanted to look back on the damage he caused.
A hearing officer said in a statement that the information on the initial police report of the incident was false, per The Commercial Appeal. Hemphill wrote his use of force was a result of Nichols driving recklessly. However, Hemphill admitted he never saw Nichols driving erratically.
Hemphill also alleged Nichols fought him which caused him to use his Taser. However, the video doesn’t match with the events documented in the video. He still has yet to be criminally charged.
The five officers charged in the beating failed to capture the event on their body cameras. Why? Because three removed them completely during the incident. one was reported to have stashed his camera in his vehicle, per Insider.
Documents from the police department noted this as one of the department policies the officers violated. The “sky cop” camera caught majority of the incident the world witnessed.
When Demetrius Haley pulled over Tyre Nichols, he never told him what the reason was for the stop. Per Insider, he approached Nichols in a black hoodie, jumping out of an unmarked car and used “loud profanity” to force him out of the vehicle.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, told Don Lemon on CNN This Morning that Memphis police officers banged on her front door that night asking if they knew a Tyre Nichols. She said they proceeded to tell her he was arrested for a DUI and that he’d been in the hospital after being pepper-sprayed and tased.
They neglected to share he was in critical condition. Also, since when do the cops approach the family to announce an arrest?
In the same interview, Nichols’ mother said she was told the nonlethal weapons were used on Nichols because it was “difficult” to handcuff him because he displayed a “superhuman” amount of energy. What a way to reinforce Black stereotypes. A similar thing was described by the officers and paramedics who gave Elijah McClain a fatal dose of amphetamine.
In cases like George Floyd, the part of an autopsy that gets milked the most by the police department is whether they had drugs in their system at the time of their death. It’s more of a scapegoat to take the eyes off the police brutality.
Mrs. Wells said the officers asked if her son was was on any type of drugs. In the video footage of the incident, the officers are heard joking that Nichols “must be” on something.
“He higher than a motherf****r,” one officer says while trying to prop him back up against the patrol car after he slumped over.
“He high as a kite,” says another cop. No, he was fighting for his life.
Nichols’ parents were told by the police that Nichols was sent to the hospital but were instructed not to go see him because he was still under arrest. Mrs. Wells said when she asked what hospital he was sent to the officers told her he was “nearby.”
At 4 a.m., the doctors at St. Francis Hospital called Nichols’ parents asking why they hadn’t come and informed them Nichols had gone into cardiac arrest and kidney failure, per CNN This Morning.
As the Wells drove to find their son, it became more believable that the cops may have been trying to cover something up.
The five officers fired from the department and charged in the incident were part of the neighborhood crime-fighting unit which has an alleged shady past of violence. Rodney Wells, Nichols’ father, said he’s heard of multiple occasions where people had been assaulted by Scorpion unit officers. One Memphis resident told WJHL 11 News he was apprehended by the Scorpion unit in an aggressive manner similar to Nichols’ four days before his death.
“All I heard is a ‘Freeze, get out the car. Put your MF hands up before I blow your heads off. Both of you get out the car. Put your hands up. So I put my hands up, and one of the officers proceeded to come to the car, and he physically pulled me out by my shoulder with a gun no more than a foot away from my head,” said Cornell McKinney.
Per the body camera footage, the officers seemed to get riled up at the perception Nichols was not complying with their commands - all 70 of them. According to an analysis by the New York Times, within the 13 minutes of them trying to handcuff him, they issued over 71 orders, all of which were contradicting and confusing.
In one instance, the officers yell at him to get on the ground when he is on the ground already (they meant face down but didn’t specify). In another, the officers are holding him by his arms but demand he show his hands which results in a punch to the face. After being beaten to a pulp, Nichols lied limp on the ground and was still being yelled at to “lie flat.”
In the video footage, more officers arrive to the scene and appear to be joking about the incident as Nichols lied slumped over near a squad car, per AP. They claimed he tried to slam into their cars with his vehicle and tried to grab their gun during the struggle. Every once in a while an officer is seen shining a light on Nichols and walking away or lifting one of his arms to prop him up from falling over.
About 20 minutes go by while the group of over 10 cops banter about the injuries they sustained after practically jumping Nichols until finally someone comes to provide aid. What aid that was beyond staring at Nichols blankly... I can’t even tell you.
You would have never thought even half of these events occurred based off the initial press release of the incident.
“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended. Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath at which time an ambulance was called to the scene,” read the statement from the MPD.
The main reason we are here right now with charges, terminations and investigations is because Mr. Wells took a picture of Nichols’ bloated and beaten face to show the internet why they demanded answers. Now, everyone is demanding the same answers.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn CJ Davis told Don Lemon on CNN This Morning that by looking at the footage, she still speculates whether there was probable cause for the traffic stop.
“Well, I’m going to be honest with you about the stop itself. What is — what was said was that there was a witnessing of what was considered reckless driving. We’ve looked at cameras, we’ve looked at body-worn cameras, and even if something occurred prior to this stop - We have not been able to substantiate the reckless driving,” said Chief Davis.
Nichols didn’t even have the chance to be charged and prove his innocence. He was never read his rights or allowed to speak to an attorney. His life was dwindling while in custody.
One of the five cops charged in the incident, Demetrius Haley, was previously sued for abuse of force of a prison inmate when he worked for the Shelby County detention center, reports say. The suit was dropped so the case never made it to court.
Either way, it’s shameful to be accused in a beating at one job to be accused in another at your new job just a few years later.
According to the Hastings Tribune, Chief Davis previously led Atlanta’s Special Operations Section including the Red Dog unit which was disbanded following police brutality accusations and illegal searches. How ironic that Davis’ Scorpion unit in Memphis is accused of doing the same.
Davis was fired from the Atlanta Police Department in 2008 after allegedly botching a pedophilia investigation. She was reinstated after challenging her termination and retired in 2016. After, she ended up as police chief of the Durham, Nc. police department and left there to join Memphis PD in 2021.
We love a Black woman in power but after Nichols’ death, the public is beginning to question if Davis deserves her job.