Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Memphis police officer ‘took pictures of brutally beaten Tyra Nichols’

After Tyra Nichols was brutally beaten by five Memphis police officers last month, one officer took two cellphone photos of the 29-year-old black man and sent an image via text message to at least five people, documents show. Recently the intern of the police department disclosed.

Demetrius Haley, one of five officers who was fired and charged with murder in Nichols’ death, admitted he texted a photo to two other Memphis officers and a “female acquaintance,” among others. did, according to documents posted online by CNN affiliate WMC.

The photo sharing was just one of several allegations filed in internal documents accusing the officers of a wide range of misconduct and policy violations during and after their January 7 conversation with Nichols.

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Taken together, the police documents accused officers of detaining Nichols without giving a reason for arrest, using excessive force, turning off or hiding his body cameras, “laughing and boasting” about the beatings, and then turning to investigators. has been accused of misleading.

The offenses are outlined in five decertification request letters, one for each officer, sent by the police department to a state police enforcement commission last month.

If they are granted de-certification, they will not be able to work for other state law enforcement agencies.

Nichols is described in the letters as an unarmed, non-violent subject who posed no significant threat to officers.

He died three days after the beating.

CNN has contacted the Memphis Police Department for comment, as well as requesting documents from the Tennessee Peace Officer Training and Standards Commission.

The letters show that the five officers were accused of violating personal conduct, dereliction of duty, excessive or unnecessary force and internal department policies on the use of body cameras.

Some were also charged with additional violations.

The charges are not criminal in nature.

The documents say the five officers declined to comment before an administrative hearing officer, who ultimately approved their dismissals.

A sixth officer has also been sacked.

All the officers were members of the special unit SCORPION, which has since been disbanded.

In addition, the fire department fired two EMTs and a lieutenant for their inadequate response to the incident.

The Memphis City Attorney announced Tuesday that seven more officers are expected to face administrative disciplinary action related to the case, one of the latest examples of a national investigation into police use of force against people of color. Black. American people.

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The Memphis City Council also approved several public safety improvements at a meeting Tuesday night, the first hearing since the video of Nichols’ beating was released.

The council’s vote took place as the Nichols family entered the House Chamber of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, as guests of first lady Jill Biden at the President’s State of the Union address. Joe Biden.

Biden addressed the need for police accountability in his speech.

Officers did not remove or turn on body cameras

The five crime-charged officers (Taddeus Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills Jr., and Haley) never turned on their body cameras or only recorded snippets of their encounter with Nichols, which is police policy. is a violation of , says the letter.

According to the documents, Memphis police policy requires officers to activate their body cameras before entering the scene of any dispatch call and to continue recording until the encounter is over.

The documents state that if his camera was not turned on before he arrived at the scene, he should turn it on “as soon as possible”.

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Both Bean and Mills were initially recording their encounter with Nichols, but according to their letters, they put their cameras away when the scene was still active.

The letter states that Bean removed the camera from his vest and left it in the trunk of a car before leaving to “discuss the incident with other officers”.

His letter states that Mills completely removed his vest and left in another car with the camera.

Martin and Haley, the first officers to remove Nichols from his car, did not turn on their cameras before the confrontation, according to their charging statements.

His letter states that Smith had not activated his camera when he first arrived at the scene.

The documents do not clarify whether Haley, Martin or Smith turned on their cameras a second time when they encountered Nichols, who was confronted again by officers after fleeing on foot.

Martin’s letter states that he “at some point” removed his camera and placed it in his car.

The officers held Nichols down while others beat and pepper-sprayed him.

The documents added more details to police’s exhaustive conversation with Nichols, only some of which was captured on surveillance footage and body cameras.

Police initially said the conversation began with a traffic stop for suspected “reckless driving”.

However, internal police documents state that Haley “(Nicholls) exited his vehicle while loudly cursing and wearing a black hoodie over (his) head” and that “the driver was never allowed to enter the vehicle.” did not state the purpose of the stop or that he was under arrest.”

Moments later, Haley pepper-sprayed Nichols directly into his eyes and pinned him to the ground, the documents say.

After Nichols fled the scene, officers caught up with him at a second location near his family home and choked and beat him as he lay motionless on the ground, the video shows.

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Police department documents uncover multiple uses of excessive force against Nichols by each officer and say that several men failed to intervene or report the violent actions of their fellow officers.

The department says that at one point, Smith and Bean held Nichols by the arms while other officers pepper-sprayed and “severely beat” him with batons.

The letters stated that Smith and Bean admitted to hitting Nichols several times while trying to handcuff him.

After the beating, the documents say, the officers could be heard on body cameras. “Making several unprofessional comments, laughing and boasting about (their) involvement.”

The officers failed to provide immediate assistance after the beatings or when medical staff asked to remove the handcuffs, the documents said, even after Smith later admitted he had EMT training.

Mills knew that Nichols had been “pepper sprayed, tasered, beaten with an ASP baton, punched and kicked” but did not render any help, according to the documents.

Instead, he admitted in his report that he went to disinfect himself with the irritating chemical spray, his letter says.

About 23 minutes passed between Nichols being buried and a stretcher arriving at the scene, the video shows.

An autopsy commissioned by Nicholls’ family initially concluded that he had suffered from “extensive bleeding due to severe beatings”.

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The full autopsy report of the family is yet to be released.

Officials also have not released Nichols’ autopsy.

the officers’ accounts were inaccurate or inconsistent

After Nichols’ arrest, officers’ statements and reports contradicted each other and omitted or misrepresented key details about their violence toward Nichols, according to the letters.

The documents said their accounts “were not consistent with each other and were not consistent with the publicly known injuries and death of Mr. Nichols.”

When speaking with Nichols’ mother after his arrest, Mills and his supervisor “refused to provide precise details of her son’s encounter with police or his condition,” their letter states.

Martin made “misleading” statements in his summary of the incident, claiming Nichols reached for his holstered weapon as officers forced him to the ground, his letter states.

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The video evidence, however, “does not corroborate” his claims, he says, adding that Martin never disclosed that he punched and kicked Nichols multiple times. Instead, he says, he said he “body blew”.

Haley also said in a statement and in body camera footage that she heard an officer say to Nichols, “Drop my gun!”

But after reviewing the video evidence the claim was “concluded to be false”, the documents say.

The documents show that both Haley and Martin were accused of violating the department’s policy of providing “intentionally false, false, or misleading” information internally.

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