Five Memphis police officers were fired Friday after the chief said they violated department guidelines during a traffic stop in Tennessee earlier this month that ended in the hospitalization and death of a 29-year-old man.
An administrative investigation by the Memphis Police Department found that officers allegedly violated several policies, including using excessive force, a duty to intervene and a duty to provide assistance at the Tire Nichols traffic stop on Jan. 7, Police Chief CJ said Davis in a statement.
The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were discontinued between 2017 and 2020.
“The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city,” Davis said. “The enormity of this incident does not reflect the good work our officers do with integrity every day.”
Attempts to reach the officials on Friday were unsuccessful.
In an emailed statement, Memphis Police Association President Lt. Essica Cage-Rosario, an ongoing criminal investigation into the death of Nichols and declined to comment on the officers’ firing.
“The citizens of Memphis, and more importantly, Mr. Nichols’ family, deserve to know the full account of the events leading up to his death and what may have contributed to it,” she said.
Attorney Ben Crump, representing the Nichols family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement earlier Friday, a spokeswoman for Crump said Nichols’ attorney and family would be reaching out to reporters after reviewing video from the traffic stop’s body camera.
“Nichols’ family say police brutalized him beyond recognition,” the statement said.
Authorities said officers pulled over Nichols on Jan. 7 for reckless driving. A “confrontation” ensued, the department said at the time, and officers pursued Nichols as he fled on foot.
Another confrontation ensued while attempting to take Nichols into custody, and Nichols complained of shortness of breath, the department said.
Nichols died three days later.
The authorities have not released any details about the confrontation.
A photo provided by his stepfather showed a hospitalized Nichols with blood on his face and what appeared to be a swollen eye.
The case is also under review by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, which announced earlier this week that they have opened a civil rights investigation.