NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four of five former Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tire Nichols, a black man who was handcuffed, brutally beaten and ignored by first responders for crucial minutes even though he was barely conscious , can no longer work as law enforcement in Tennessee.
The Peace Officer Standards & Training Commission (POST) voted Friday to revoke certification for Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith. The state board also approved Desmond Mills’ decision to relinquish its certification.
The former officers have 30 days to appeal.
The beating of the 29-year-old black man occurred during a night traffic stop on January 7th. The commission subsequently released documents showing that Haley dragged Nichols out of his vehicle and never explained why he was pulled over, and that he also took photos of Nichols slumped against the car after being hit by officers and sent the pictures to colleagues.
Nichols died in a hospital on January 10.
Early police reports minimized traffic control violence – reports that have since been contradicted by witness testimony and police and surveillance video – and their task force was disbanded. Two Memphis Fire Department paramedics and a lieutenant were also fired.
The five former police officers charged with second-degree murder have all pleaded not guilty.
The Memphis Police Department sought the firing of seven of the former Memphis officers involved, including one who retired before he could be fired.
None of the fired officers or their lawyers attended their hearing before the commission on Thursday or their vote on Friday.
Mills’ attorney said his client was wrongly accused and was “focused on his freedom.”
“It’s a waste of time,” attorney Blake Ballin said of the attempted decertification. “It’s meaningless to him at this stage in his life.”
An attorney for Haley declined to comment on the decertification vote. Martin and Smith’s attorneys did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
In a letter attached to the filing requesting his decertification, Smith defended his conduct, stating that Nichols “was violent and would not comply.”
The fifth indicted former officer, Tadarrius Bean, has not yet had a decertification hearing before the commission. Two former officers who have not been charged also have not: Preston Hemphill, who was fired after firing a stun gun at Nichols during a traffic stop; and Dewayne Smith, the senior lieutenant who arrived at the scene after the beating and retired rather than being fired.
A seventh fired police officer was not publicly named.
During Nichols’ funeral, Vice President Kamala Harris called on lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping package of reforms that includes a national registry of police officers disciplined for misconduct, a ban on warrants and other measures.
Associated Press reporter Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee contributed to this report.
More information on the Tire Nichols murder: https://apnews.com/hub/tyre-nichols