On Friday night, five Memphis police officers were terminated for their roles in the traffic stop that led to the hospitalization and eventual death of a 29-year-old man.
In a statement, the police force said that the officers, who had been with the passion for 2.5–5 years, had broken several policies, including those regarding the use of force, the refusal to provide medical assistance, and the obligation to act. Three days after the traffic encounter, Tyre D. Nichols of Memphis passed away.
According to a statement released by Memphis Police Chief Carolyn “CJ” Davis, “earlier today, each officer charged was terminated from the Memphis Police Department.” The seriousness of this occurrence in no way represents the honest and ethical work of our officers.
Davis has discussed charges within the agency, but they are not criminal charges.
I missed this news yesterday:
The DOJ and FBI Memphis Field Office opened a civil rights investigation into the traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols earlier this month.
— Meghan Mangrum (@memangrum) January 19, 2023
On Friday night, Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith were all let go. The agency had employed them since August 2020, March 2020, March 2018, March 2017, and March 2018, respectively.
The internal inquiry into potential policy infractions during the traffic stop lasted nearly two weeks before the cops were cleared.
Nichols’ older sister, Keyana Dixon, remarked, “To see their expressions gets me mad.” “My heart is ripped open and I’m struggling to keep it together. In other words, you’re being tortured.”
Nichols’ older brother Jamal Dupree and one of his closest friends, Angelina Paxton, have both spoken out about how the police have disappointed them.
As Dupree and Paxton put it in their joint statement, “knowing the history of police contacts with the Black community throughout time, these men took a position of authority and instead of doing something to help the future and honor the past, they were no better than the days of Emmett Till.” “We can no longer trust them because they have disappointed everyone. Those responsible will face the full force of the law.”
Nichols passed away on January 10th, just three days after he was stopped for a traffic violation.
A “confrontation” occurred when police stopped Nichols on January 7 around 8:30 p.m., according to a statement released by the Memphis Police Department. Nichols eventually fled, but he was captured. They reported another “confrontation” after he was already in custody.
After this, Nichols “complained of a shortness of breath,” per the police, and was then transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after his passing, a photo of Nichols with an intubation tube was released to the public. Significant welts all over his face had a disfiguring effect. His nose was almost completely crooked. His intubation tube and hospital blankets were covered in blood.
Some of the injuries Nichols endured, according to his loved ones, were kidney failure and brain swelling. Stepfather Rodney Wells reported that he was connected to a dialysis machine before Nichols passed away.
“I cannot imagine losing a child in this manner…We want to be transparent, we want to be fair & we want to do the right thing” @WDTNNews+@CivilRights: @MEM_PoliceDept ‘used force’ in #TyreNichols arrest, city close to finishing investigation into death: https://t.co/4BRDoQHWIq pic.twitter.com/w06mnGiAoZ
— Stephen Pimpo (@spimpojr) January 19, 2023
The city and police department has launched an internal inquiry and placed the involved officers on administrative leave. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office promptly requested an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into the officers’ “use of force” during the stop.
Just over a week after Nichols’ death, the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI Memphis Field Office, and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division would announce that they were conducting an investigation into probable civil rights violations on the part of the officers involved.
Public officials have responded by asking the public to be patient while an internal inquiry is conducted. These public figures include Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.
Members of the family and the general public have called for full disclosure, including the quick release of any video footage from the traffic stop.
According to a city official, the footage might be made public as soon as Monday, but not before it has been shown to Nichols’ family. Minutes before Nichols’ memorial ceremony, the news broke that the footage will be made public.
Wells said during the funeral that the family has also requested that the cops involved be charged with “murder one.”
In the words of his loved ones, Nichols “lit up the room” whenever he entered a room. According to Paxton, Nichols died in a gloomy fashion for someone with “this much light.”