There was a small shred of justice in the Tyre Nichols case today. Four of the five former Memphis police officers charged with killing Nichols were barred from working in law enforcement in Tennessee.
On January 7th, Police handcuffed Nichols during a traffic stop and brutally beat him. Nichols, 29, succumbed to his injuries several days later. The horrific incident was captured on video, re-igniting outrage over police brutality and the seemingly endless stream of Black bodies left in the wake of police violence.
The Peace Officer, Standards & Training Commission voted on Friday to decertify three of the officers, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, and Justin Smith. At the same time, the commission voted to approve the fourth officer’s decision to surrender his police certification voluntarily.
The fact that it took this long to permanently stop these officers from pursuing careers at other Tennessee police departments or in one officers case collection his pension, is somewhat troubling.
Just because a cop gets fired doesn’t mean they can’t get back onto the streets. A report from the Washington Post on Florida police officers found that roughly 1,100 full-time law enforcement officers had previously been fired from by other police departments. And as it turns out, the cops who were re-hired were more likely to work in police departments that policed more people of color.
The Friday decision leaves the question of what’s to happen to the other officers involved in Nichols’ death. The fifth officer charged in the case, Tadarrius Bean, hasn’t had his hearing yet. The other two officers who were not charged in this case, Preston Hemphill, who was fired because he hit Nichols with a stun gun, and Dewayne Smith, who voluntarily retired, have also not had their hearings.
Smith, a former lieutenant, is still eligible to keep his retirement pension. Although, that would change if the commission votes to decertify him.
For the officers charged with a crime, time will tell if prosecutors are able to pull out a conviction.