MEMPHIS (Tenn.) — A Memphis police officer who was on the scene of Tyre Nicks‘s death was beat to death by officers, who retired with his benefits, one day before a hearing to dismiss him. According to documents filed to revoke his law enforcement certificate.
Records obtained by media outlets Friday identified Lt. DeWayne as Smith, the officer who officials claimed had retired earlier this month before his termination hearing.
Memphis City Council members were unhappy that an officer was allowed retire before they could take steps to fire them. This included JB Smiley Jr, the vice-chairman of the council, who stated it wasn’t fair that the unidentified officer could continue to receive pension and other benefits.
Smiley stated, “I don’t like that his parents are paying the officer to go on living and that’s troubling.”
Nichols’ attorney said Smith should not have been allowed to “cowardly ignore the consequences of his actions” and retired after 25 years.
Attorney Ben Crump stated that “We call on Memphis police officials and officers to do all they can to hold Lt. Smith, and all those involved fully responsible.”
Six other Memphis officers were dismissed following Nichols’ death. Five of them were charged with second degree murder. Smith was not charged in Nichols’ death.
Nichols, 29 years old, was taken from his vehicle by an officer who threatened to shock him using a Taser. He fled, but was pursued down. Video shows five officers holding him down, repeatedly striking him with their boots, batons and fists while he screamed at his mother.
Additional details are revealed in the decertification papers against Lt. Smith.
According to the report, Smith heard Nichols utter “I can’t breath” while he was being propped up against a squad vehicle. However, Smith failed to provide medical attention or remove his handcuffs.
Smith didn’t receive any reports from other officers regarding using force, and told Nichols’ families that he was driving while impaired even though there wasn’t enough evidence to support a conviction. Smith, according to investigators, decided that Nichols was drunk or on drugs and video footage captured him telling Nichols that he had “taken something” upon arriving at the scene.
Smith also refused to wear his body camera, in violation of police department policy. According to documents, Smith’s actions were recorded on the bodies of other officers.
In response to Nichols’s death, the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing Memphis Police Department policies regarding force use, de-escalation strategies, and specialized units.