As multiple investigations into the Jan. 7 incident that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols continue, the City of Memphis released video of the incident Friday evening. The city posted four videos, three from body-worn cameras and one from a nearby pole camera, on its Vimeo page.
Nichols died Jan. 10, just days after his encounter with officers from the Memphis Police Department’s Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods (SCORPION) unit. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate on Jan. 8, prior to Nichols’ death.
Following an administrative investigation, the Memphis Police Department says five officers “violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid. Those five officers were terminated Jan. 20.
Former officers Tadarrius Bean, 24; Demetrius Haley, 30; Emmitt Martin III, 30; Desmond Mills, Jr., 32; and Justin Smith, 28; were last week arrested and charged in the death of Nichols.
All were charged with one count of second-degree murder, aggravated assault-acting in concert, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and one count of official oppression according to court records, reports the Commercial Appeal. A Shelby County Grand Jury returned a seven-count indictment against the officers Jan. 26.
According to the Memphis Police Department, four of the five officers involved in the incident have been with the department less than five years. Mills was hired in March 2017. In March 2018 both Smith and Martin were hired. Then, Bean and Haley were hired in August 2020.
Two of the five officers were previously college football players and two others had some related experience, one as a college intern and the other in corrections. Haley worked for the Shelby County Corrections Department before joining the police department, reports CBS News. Bean previously worked at a fast-rood restaurant and AT&T and interned with law enforcement at the University of Mississippi while in college. Martin played college football at Bethel University. Mills also is a former athlete and played football at West Virginia State University.
“Those five officers and others failed our community, and they failed the Nichols family and that is beyond regrettable,” says Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis. “It is my intent as a proactive measure to ensure that a complete independent review is conducted on all of the Memphis Police Department specialized units in the commitment of my executive leadership to ensure that policies and procedures are adhered to in our daily encounters with the citizens we are sworn to serve.”
Saturday, Memphis police issued a statement announcing the deactivation of the SCORPION unit. That statement says officers assigned to the unit met with the chief and that the officers not involved with Nichols’ death have done “quality work in their assignments,” however, the unit is permanently deactivated.
“While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted,” the department states.
Police confirmed today that a sixth Memphis police officer involved in the arrest of Nichols has been relieved of duty, ABC24 reports. Officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty Jan. 8 during the ongoing investigation into the circumstances which eventually led to Nichols' death.
His attorney reports Hemphill was the third officer on the original stop of Nichols, activated his body-worn camera, but was never present at the second scene where Nichols was reported to have been assaulted by officers. In the videos released by Memphis police, Hemphill’s footage was identified as Video One.
In addition to the activities of the five Memphis officers, other agencies with personnel that responded to the scene that night are reviewing how their representatives handled the situation.
After the video was released Friday, two Shelby County deputies were relieved of their duties according to Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr., reports FOX13.
“Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols. I have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of these deputies to determine what occurred and if any policies were violated. Both of these deputies have been relieved of duty pending the outcome of this administrative investigation,” Bonner says in a statement.
The Memphis Fire Department is conducting an internal investigation into actions of its employees; however, the department did not receive full access to the video footage until Jan. 27. The fire department says it expects to conclude the investigation this week. Two fire department personnel involved in the initial patient care of Nichols were relieved of duty while the investigation is being conducted.
At the federal level, United States Attorney Kevin G. Ritz earlier this month announced the Department of Justice has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Nichols.