Memphis Officers Had Been Reprimanded After Using Force
Two of the former Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tire Nichols were previously reprimanded for failing to file the necessary reports on the use of force in the arrest, according to filings released Tuesday.
In one case from 2019, Officer Desmond Mills Jr. was assisting in the arrest after a traffic stop when he grabbed the suspect by the hand and brought her to the ground, personnel records show. After a hearing two years later, Mr. Mills was reprimanded in writing for not filing the required case report.
The woman arrested in that case filed charges that she was beaten by officers, grabbed her by the hair and crashed into a patrol car. Records depicting body-camera footage show two different officers grappling with the woman for several minutes, with one of them hitting her with a baton, before Mr. support. The filing said the woman “was bruised and scratched throughout the struggle”.
Demetrius Haley, one of the other officers charged in Mr Nichols’ death, was also reprimanded in 2021 for failing to report after grabbing a person by the hand to turn them around for arrest. Mr. Haley said at a hearing that he was confused about the “level of effort required to request” that document.
Personnel records were released on the eve of Mr Nichols’ funeral, scheduled for Wednesday with Father Al Sharpton giving a eulogy.
At a news conference on Tuesday night, Mr. Sharpton, along with Mr. Nichols’ family and civil rights activists, reiterated demands for accountability. He called for changes in federal law to tighten rules on police conduct and make it easier to sue officers accused of misconduct, describing what happened to him. Nichols is “a disgrace to this country.”
“People from all over the world have seen a videotape of a man, unarmed and unprovoked, being beaten to death by law enforcement officers,” Sharpton said at the Mason Temple. , the church where Pastor Dr. Martin Luther King lived. Jr gave his final speech the day before his assassination.
He added: “We talk a lot about street thugs and the colors they wear. “In Memphis, it looks like they wear that blue uniform.”
Other speakers echoed Sharpton’s call for stronger federal laws to regulate police and increase accountability. It has been more than two years since the death of George Floyd, said Bishop Talbert W. Swan II of the Church The Church of God in Christand lawmakers did not promise to change the law.
“It seems that the determination to move forward with this change has made those currently sitting in Parliament feel comfortable,” he said. Instead, they “are now saying, ‘Fund the police,’ and have forgotten the promises they made to the Negroes that brought them to power.”
Personnel records released Tuesday also show that the two other officers charged in Nichols’ death have a history of discipline. Officer Emmitt Martin III was suspended for failing to inspect his vehicle after his shift, the matter came to light when another officer found a gun inside the vehicle. Mr. Martin was then suspended for a day after failing to report when he responded to a reported domestic violence case.
Officer Justin Smith was suspended for two days in 2021 after crashing his car, according to records. He and another driver were injured in the crash.
The fifth officer charged in Nichols’ death, Tadarrius Bean, does not appear to have had any previous disciplinary problems since joining the department in 2020.
Disciplinary cases involving the use of force focus on whether officers appropriately report encounters; the hearings do not appear to examine whether the force is appropriate.
Records show that officers’ managers sometimes appear at disciplinary hearings to commend officers’ work. At Mr Haley’s hearing, a lieutenant spoke on his behalf, saying he was “a hard-working officer” who “regularly makes the right decisions”. At Mr. Martin’s hearing, records show, a lieutenant called him one of the “top producers.”
All five officers fired this month after the death of Mr. Nichols. Video from his arrest on January 7 shows police kicking, pepper-spraying and punching him. He was taken to the hospital and died three days later.
These officers are part of a dedicated unit “Scorpion”, set up in 2021 to deploy in residential areas where the city has a high crime rate. Existing Department disband the unitwith police officials saying the “cruel acts of a few” have created a cloud of disgrace for the unit.