Five Memphis Police Department officers were fired on Friday for their part in what Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said was “the tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols.”
Nichols died Jan. 10. Three days earlier around 8:30 p.m., he had a deadly encounter with Memphis police officers near Raines and Ross roads in Hickory Hills.
According to the department’s Twitter account, police said officers were trying to make a traffic stop for reckless driving.
In a statement released Friday, Davis said, “After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.”
The five officers, and their hire dates, are:
- Tadarrius Bean, Aug. 2020
- Demetrius Haley, Aug. 2020
- Emmitt Martin III, March 2018
- Desmond Mills Jr., March 2017
- Justin Smith, March 2018
“The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day,” Davis said in the statement.
“The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen.”
An MPD investigation led to the firings. Criminal charges await the completion of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and would be made by the office of Shelby County Atty. Gen. Steve Mulroy. Mulroy asked for the TBI investigation.
Nichols’ family has hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has called for the release of video footage.
In a joint statement earlier this week, Mayor Jim Strickland and Davis, said, “The video will be released publicly after the completion of the internal investigation into the actions of the officers and after the family of Mr. Nichols has had the opportunity to review the video privately.”
A statement released Friday from Mulroy’s office read this way:
“Our office is committed to transparency and understands the reasonable request from the public to view the video footage. However, we must ensure we abide by applicable laws and ethical rules so that we do not jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution.
“We’re working with the appropriate agencies to determine how quickly we can release the video, and will do so as soon as we can. We’ll be sure to update the public throughout this process.”
On Wednesday (Jan. 18), Kevin G. Ritz, U.S. Atty. for the Western District of Tennessee, announced his office, in coordination with the FBI Memphis Field Office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, has opened a civil rights investigation.”