MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Documents released Tuesday provided a scathing account of what authorities called the “glaringly unprofessional” conduct of five officers involved in the police’s fatal beating of Tire Nichols during a traffic stop last month — including new revelations about how one officer took and shared photos of the bloodied victim.
The officer, Demetrius Haley, stood over Nichols as he lay badly injured from the beating and took photographs, which he sent to other officers and an acquaintance, according to documents released by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.
“Your conduct on duty was unfairly, grossly unprofessional, and unbecoming a sworn public official,” the Memphis Police Department wrote, requesting that Haley and the other officers be decertified.
Haley’s attorney declined to comment, and attorneys for the other four officers declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries from the Associated Press.
The five officers – Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith and Emmitt Martin III – were all fired and charged with second-degree murder. The new documents, signed by Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, offer the most detailed account to date of the actions of each individual officer during the incident. Davis signed each of the five agents’ decertification requests.
Another officer was also dismissed and a seventh was relieved of his duties. Up to 13 Memphis officers could end up being disciplined in connection with Tire Nichols’ violent arrest, officials said Tuesday.
The newly released documents are part of a request by the Memphis Police Department for the five officers accused of murder to be decertified and banned from working in law enforcement again.
Haley, who drove an unmarked car and wore a black hoodie over his head, forced Nichols out of his car using loud profanity, then sprayed him directly in the eyes with an irritating chemical spray, according to the statement. .
“You never told the driver the purpose of the vehicle’s arrest or that he was under arrest,” he says.
Haley didn’t have her body camera on when she stopped Nichols, but she was on the phone with someone who overheard the encounter.
Nichols escaped from officers but was re-arrested a few blocks away. At that point, Haley kicked him in the torso while three other officers were handcuffing him. Other officers kicked Nichols in the face, punched him, or hit him with a nightstick. According to footage captured on a pole camera, one of the officers appears to quickly snap a photo of Nichols on his phone at 7:55 as flashlights are shined on him.
“You and other officers were caught on a body-worn camera making multiple unprofessional comments, laughing, bragging about your involvement,” the decertification charges against Mills said.
The decertification charges against Mills noted, “You admitted you failed to provide immediate medical attention and walked away and decontaminated yourself from the chemical irritant spray.”
Martin said Nichols tried to grab the officer’s gun from its holster after another officer forced him out of the vehicle, the police chief wrote. Audio from a body camera did not catch Nichols using profanity or making violent threats. Martin, meanwhile, used contemptuously profane language as he ordered Nichols to put his arm behind his back.
On a requested form, Martin said Nichols grabbed his service weapon before officers took him to the ground. However, video evidence does not confirm this, the police chief wrote. Martin later told investigators the details were correct. Martin also did not disclose that he punched Nichols in the face and kicked him multiple times in the form, and instead added in his subsequent statement to investigators that he delivered “body blows.”
Police found the oral and written statements deceptive, the chief wrote.
Nichols died three days after the beating.
Associated Press reporters Travis Loller and Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville and Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed. Mattise reported from Nashville.