Updated as of 1/23/2023 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Here lie the careers of Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith - the five Memphis police officers who were fired following a traffic stop that left Tyre Nichols with critical injuries. May they think twice before submitting police applications elsewhere.
The five were terminated from the Memphis Police Department following an internal investigation, per the Commercial Appeal. The worst part: every single officer was a Black man.
After Nichols’ family took to the streets demanding justice, the officers were placed under both state and federal investigation. Per a statement from the MPD, the officers were only on the force between two and five years. The investigation found that they violated multiple department policies, including the failure to render aid and their duty to intervene as well as the use of force. Though the department charges were not announced in direct relation to the Nichols’ incident, the public speculated that these policy violations were connected.
I didn’t think any new information could make this case any worse. A group of Black officers being evaluated for the murder of a Black driver isn’t necessarilyh surprising, but it is disheartening. One would think Black officers would police differently based off what we know about police bias. Nichols’ case only proves it doesn’t matter what color they are, all cops need better training.
As a result of the investigation coming to a close, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief C.J. Davis promised the public release of the body camera footage of the incident. Both the family and public demand to know what happened between the arrest and the hospital.
On the other hand, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office is also working to release the footage, but will do so carefully to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.
“Our office is committed to transparency and understands the reasonable request from the public to view the video footage. However, we must ensure we abide by applicable laws and ethical rules so that we do not jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution. We’re working with the appropriate agencies to determine how quickly we can release the video, and will do so as soon as we can. We’ll be sure to update the public throughout this process,” read a statement from the office.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump says the information we know so far about the case “tells us that this was the tragic and preventable death of a young man,” per NBC.
Here’s what we know so far:
Nichols was pulled over Jan. 7 for reckless driving. Authorities say as the cops approached Nichols, a “confrontation” ensued and he attempted to flee. He was approached again by the officers who arrested him. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Nichols complained of having a shortness of breath and then an ambulance was called.
The police department said Nichols died three days later after “succumbing to his injuries” —of which they didn’t specify and seemed to conveniently skip over how said injuries were caused in their press releases. Social media circulated an image of Nichols appearing beaten and bloodied in the hospital bed.
This is the second reported death of a Black man following a traffic stop this month. Just last week, Washington D.C. teacher Keenan Anderson was shocked repeatedly with a Taser by the LAPD during a traffic stop. He died four hours later at the hospital. Both Anderson and Nichols’ family were left with more questions than answers as to how a routine stop could turn fatal.
Read more about it at NBC News:
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family, is asking for police to release video from the stop, saying in a statement that “all of the available information tells us that this was the tragic and preventable death of a young man.”
“Nobody should ever die from a simple traffic stop — the footage is the only way to discern the true narrative of why and how that happened to Tyre,” Crump said.
Family members also demonstrated outside the National Civil Rights Museum with protesters Monday, holding signs with photos of Nichols. Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, was among the relatives protesting over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, NBC affiliate WMC reported.
“You shouldn’t be on a dialysis machine, press machine, looking like this because of a traffic stop,” Wells told WMC.
The Memphis Police Department said they are taking disciplinary action against the officers involved following an internal investigation the day of the incident. The state bureau of investigation and Shelby County District Attorney’s Office were contacted to conduct a use-of-force investigation.