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Fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols exposes unprofessional conduct of five officers

A shocking account of the events that led to the death of Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop last month was released this week, revealing the “blatantly unprofessional” conduct of five officers involved in the incident. According to the documents released by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, Officer Demetrius Haley not only stood over the bloodied victim but also took photographs and shared them with other officers and a female acquaintance.

In response, the Memphis Police Department requested the decertification of all five officers – Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, and Emmitt Martin III – and referred to their actions as “unjustly, blatantly unprofessional and unbecoming for a sworn public servant.” All five officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder.

An additional officer has also been fired, while a seventh has been relieved of duty, as the fatal police beating continues to prompt nationwide protests and spark a nationwide conversation about police treatment of Black residents. As many as 13 Memphis officers may face disciplinary action.


The newly released documents reveal the most detailed account to date of the officers’ actions. According to the statement, Haley, who was driving an unmarked car and wearing a black hoodie, forced Nichols out of his car using profanity and sprayed him directly in the eyes with a chemical irritant. After Nichols was apprehended a few blocks away, Haley kicked him in the torso as three other officers were handcuffing him. Other officers kicked, punched, and struck Nichols with a baton.

The charges against Mills state that he made unprofessional comments, laughed, bragged about his involvement, and failed to provide immediate medical aid. Martin claimed that Nichols tried to snatch his gun, but video evidence does not support this claim. Audio from a body camera shows Nichols appearing calm and polite, while Martin cussed at him and threatened to knock him out. Martin’s oral and written statements were deemed deceitful by the police.

Smith admitted to striking an unarmed, non-violent subject with a closed fist two to three times in the face and holding his arm while other officers kicked, punched, and pepper-sprayed him. Bean was accused of holding Nichols by one arm while another officer pepper-sprayed and beat him with a baton. Bean was also reported to have shown indifference to Nichols’ distress in the aftermath.

Nichols died three days after the beating. His family attended the State of the Union address as guests of First Lady Jill Biden.

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