Former Memphis police officer sent a photo of Tire Nichols to 5 people after a brutal beating, documents show

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A fired Memphis police officer involved in the fatal beating of Tire Nichols took photos of the 29-year-old after police pepper-sprayed, kicked and punched him, and texted at least one image to at least one person. least five people, new records show. .

That revelation was contained in documents released Tuesday as part of a request by the Memphis Police Department to decertify the five officers charged with the brutal assault on Nichols on January 7. Decertification means that former officers can no longer serve as police officers anywhere in the state.

Demetrius Haley, one of the five officers fired on January 20, sent the photo, according to the documents.

He was also the officer who physically forced Nichols out of his vehicle during the initial traffic stop and deployed his irritant chemical spray «directly near the subject’s eyes,» according to Memphis Police Bureau of Inspection Services documents. .

He used profanity, laughed and «bragged» after Nichols was beaten, according to the documents.

On his personal cell phone, he took two photographs «while standing in front of the obviously injured subject,» meaning Nichols, «after he was handcuffed,» the documents say.

Haley «admitted» to sharing at least one photo in a text message with five people: a civilian employee, two Memphis police officers and an acquaintance, according to the documents.

During the administrative investigation, a sixth person was identified who also received the same photograph, according to the documents.

Haley violated police policies, including personal conduct, truthfulness, dereliction of duty and excessive force/unnecessary force, according to police.

The release of the photo violated the department’s “Reporting Police Business” policy, which states that “a member shall not report information relating to official police business without prior authorization or subpoena, except to authorized persons. A member will treat the official business of the department as confidential,” according to the documents.

Haley joined the force in August 2020 and was previously accused of beating an inmate in Shelby County in a 2016 lawsuit.

In that case, he was accused of being one of three corrections officers who allegedly beat inmate Cordarlrius Sledge. The lawsuit, which Sledge filed without an attorney, was dismissed in 2018 after a judge found that he had failed to properly serve a subpoena on one of the defendants.

Haley was also found to be insincere in his account of Nichols’ arrest, according to the documents.

“In his summary of the incident, he wrote that he heard his partner tell the individual, ‘Drop my gun!’ before they took him to the ground,» the statement said. “He was also heard making the same statement on a body camera to his companions in the presence of witness officers. However, the video evidence did not support his oral or written statement and his information was found to be false.»

The statement further stated: “You never told the driver the purpose of the vehicle stop or that he was under arrest. Audio from a body camera did not capture the driver using profanity or displaying violent threats.»

“His conduct in service was unfair, blatantly unprofessional and unbecoming of a sworn public servant,” the document said.

According to decertification documents for all of the officers charged with second-degree murder (Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills Jr, and Justin Smith), none of their body cameras captured the entire incident, despite that policies require them to activate them throughout the incident. police encounters.

Haley was unable to activate her body camera during the first encounter with Nichols, although it was working properly, according to her documents.

Martin removed his body camera at some point and placed it in his vehicle without identification; Mills and Bean at one point removed their body cameras and placed them in the trunk of a car; and Smith’s camera did not activate during his initial interaction with Nichols, according to the documents.

Other officer violations

The documents also describe alleged departmental violations, including excessive force, dereliction of duty, truthfulness and personal conduct.

Martin was found to be insincere in the police investigation, according to the documents. He reported in his arrest incident summary that Nichols “grabbed” his service weapon before officers placed him on the ground, but video evidence did not corroborate that report, according to the documents.

In his Garrity statement, a statement used by public employers during administrative investigations to determine whether misconduct has occurred, Martin «failed to disclose» that he punched the subject in the face and kicked him multiple times. In his statement to ISB investigators, he said he delivered «blows to the body,» according to the documents.

Martin’s attorney, William Massey, declined to comment on the documents, saying he is gathering evidence.

Mills’ documents say that when he went to speak with Nichols’ mother, «you and the supervisor failed to obtain his contact information or refused to provide an accurate description of your son’s encounter with police or his condition.»

More coverage of the death of Tire Nichols

He was charged with striking a «nonviolent subject» with a baton three times and pepper-spraying him twice, all actions captured on video.

Mills’ attorney, Blake Ballin, declined to comment.

Bean’s documents say he held Nichols by one of his arms while his teammates pepper-sprayed him and «excessively» beat him with a baton multiple times. The documents said he failed to take reasonable steps to «stop the excessive and unnecessary use of force.»

In his statement to Garrity, Bean admitted to punching Nichols with a clenched fist two or three times in the face because he and his partners were unable to handcuff him, which was captured on video evidence, according to the documents.

It is not immediately clear if he has an attorney. NBC News was unable to reach Bean for comment.

Smith was also accused of restraining Nichols during the beating.

He was the only officer who had a statement in his administrative file.

In Smith’s written account of the incident, dated January 19, he said he was at the desk with a knee injury when a supervisor ordered him back on patrol. When he heard that a suspect had been pepper sprayed and shot with a stun gun, he called for medical help and responded to a call for official assistance, according to the statement.

When he arrived on the scene, Smith said, he was met by an officer who was struggling with Nichols.

“I assisted that officer in our attempts to apprehend that suspect,” Smith said. «The suspect was violent and he did not comply.»

“I maintain that I personally used the training and defensive tactics provided to me as a Memphis police officer in attempting to handcuff the suspect,” he said.

He added: “As much as I would like to set the record straight, based on the inconsistencies and misstatements in the Statement of Charges provided to me, on the advice of counsel, I am unable to make any statement regarding the January 7 incident. , 2020.”

The Memphis officer who oversaw an administrative hearing into the allegations wrote that Smith admitted to beating Nichols, whom the hearing officer described as «nonviolent.» two or three times in the face with the first closed because he and another officer had not been able to handcuff him.

«You sprayed the subject with your chemical irritant spray and also held the individual’s arm while other officers kicked, punched, and pepper-sprayed him multiple times,» the officer wrote, adding that Smith’s action violated security rules. excessive use of force by the department.

A message seeking comment left at a phone number listed under Smith’s name was not returned Tuesday. Court records do not list an attorney for him.

Neither officer spoke during his administrative hearings or provided a statement to the hearing officer.

All five officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other charges.

A sixth officer was fired last week and seven more remain under investigation, a city official said Tuesday.

The president of the Memphis Police Association did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. In an earlier public statement, Lt. Essica Cage-Rosario declined to comment on the firing of the officers due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

In statements included in the decertification documents, the union objected to the administrative hearings, saying that evidence subpoenaed by the hearing officer, including body camera video and witness statements, had not been provided to a representative of the association and a full investigation was not carried out. complete.

“These are just a few examples of the GROSS violations of these officers’ due process rights,” the association said.

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