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Memphis Police fires 5 officers for their involvement in Tyre Nichols' death

Nichols died Jan. 10, 2023, following the traffic stop on Jan. 7. The family and community activists are calling for video of the confrontation to be released.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police announced Friday they have fired five police officers involved in the traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols

MPD released the names of the five officers: 

  • Officer Tadarrius Bean, with MPD since 2020.
  • Officer Demetrius Haley, with MPD since 2020.
  • Officer Emmitt Martin III, with MPD since 2018.
  • Officer Desmond Mills Jr., with MPD since 2017.
  • Officer Justin Smith, with MPD since 2018.

In a statement, MPD said the actions of these officers were "egregious" in nature:

The Memphis Police Department has concluded its administrative investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols. After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five (5) MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.

Earlier today, each officer charged was terminated from the Memphis Police Department. The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city. The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, ever day.

A hearing was held Friday on the disciplinary process for the officers involved.

We are working to learn more about any past violations these five officers have had on the job with MPD. 

This comes amid calls for video of the confrontation to be released. 

What led up to the firings

Late Friday afternoon, the City of Memphis tweeted out a statement from Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which was originally issued Jan. 17, saying,

 "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."

Nichols died Jan. 10, 2023, following the traffic stop on Jan. 7. Memphis Police said they tried to stop Nichols for reckless driving in the area of Raines Rd. and Ross Rd. They said a confrontation occurred when officers approached Nichols, and he ran away. MPD said a second confrontation occurred, and Nichols told officers he was short of breath before being taken to St. Francis hospital in critical condition.

Nichols’ family said police beat him to the point of being unrecognizable. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, announced a news conference Monday, Jan. 23, which he said will come after the family views the footage of the confrontation.

As part of the mayor's weekly update to the city on Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the City of Memphis spoke with Crump, and the meeting was being arranged for “early next week.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it has opened a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death, describing Nichols' encounter with Memphis police as an incident where officers “used force during his arrest.”

The case has garnered international attention and drawn the attention of the NAACP, who released a statement on Jan. 11 that they "will keep close watch of this matter" along with Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

The criminal investigation is the responsibility of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who said that the investigation began per the request of Mulroy after the initial confrontation on Jan. 7.

"I want to make sure we don't [release information] prematurely in a way that would compromise the ongoing investigation,” D.A. Mulroy said. “I'm asking the public to be patient. I'm committed to transparency and we are going to try to release what information we can, as soon as we can."

Mayor Strickland said the city will be cooperating completely with the civil rights investigation, which will be a coordinated effort involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the DOJ Civil Rights Division.

ABC24 reached out to TBI regarding the status of its investigation. A public information officer said there is no current timetable for how long the investigation might last.

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