MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Memphis police superintendent was on the scene when Tyree Nichols was beaten to death by retired officers the day before his release hearing, according to documents filed to revoke his law enforcement certificate.
Lt. Dewayne Smith was identified Friday in records obtained by media outlets as the officer who officials said had retired earlier this month before his termination hearing.
Some members of the Memphis City Council were upset that the officer was allowed to resign to free them, including City Council Vice Chairman JB Smiley Jr., who said it didn’t seem fair that the then-unknown officer could keep his pension. and other benefits.
“I just don’t like the fact that his parents are paying this officer to continue living, and it’s disturbing,” Smiley said.
A lawyer for Nichols’ family said the department should not allow Smith to “cowardly ignore the consequences of his actions” and retire after 25 years.
“We call on the Memphis police and officials to do everything they can to hold Lt. Smith and everyone involved fully accountable,” said attorney Ben Crump.
Seven other Memphis officers were fired After Nichols died in a traffic stop on Jan. 7, five of them have been charged with second-degree murder.. Smith has not been charged in Nichols’ death.
Nichols, 29, was roughly escorted out From his car, an officer threatened to shock him with a Taser. He ran away but was chased. The video showed five officers pinning him down and hitting him repeatedly with fists, boots and batons as he screamed for his mother.
Affidavits against Lt. Smith reveal more details about his actions that night.
Smith heard Nichols say, “I can’t breathe,” as he was strapped to the squad car, but failed to get him medical attention or remove the handcuffs, the report said.
Smith also failed to receive use-of-force reports from other officers and told Nichols’ family that he was driving under the influence, even though there was no information to support the allegation, the documents state. Investigators said Smith decided without evidence that Nichols was on drugs or drunk, and videotaped him telling Nichols, “You did something, take it” when he arrived at the scene.
In addition, Smith was not wearing his body camera — a violation of police department policy. His actions were captured on other officers’ body cameras, the documents state.
The US Department of Justice is currently reviewing the Memphis Police Department’s use of force policies, de-escalation strategies and specialized units in response to Nichols’ death.
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