7 more Memphis police employees under investigation in Tyre Nichols' death, city attorney says
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Seven more police employees — who have not been identified — are under investigation in relation to the death of Tyre Nichols, city attorney Jennifer Sink said Tuesday.
This brings the total number of officers who have been investigated or are under investigation to 13. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Preston Hemphill have been fired. Bean, Haley, Smith, Martin and Mills have also been charged with second-degree murder in Nichols' death.
Information about administrative charges and personnel actions regarding the others will likely be available at the end of next week, Sink said, after they have received documentation of the charges and gone through a required hearing.
Sink’s comments came as city council members grilled Memphis Police Department Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis on the brutal beating of Nichols by police officers and whether the department plans to make changes going forward.
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The committee meeting held at City Hall came one month after Nichols was beaten, hit with a stun gun and pepper sprayed by officers after being pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. He died three days later on Jan. 10.
In the meeting, council members questioned why the names of all officers present on the scene of Nichols’ beating had not been made public, why the Memphis Fire Department did not see video of the beating until two days before it was made public and how the police department plans to address “what went wrong on January 7.”
“The number has grown and it continues,” Davis said. “Everyone that made the scene, even individuals who did not make the scene but also had some level of responsibility are also being evaluated.”
Davis on Tuesday stressed the need to hire more supervisors for the police department, saying they have proposed the creation of 125 first-line supervisor positions, which would bring the ratio of supervisors to frontline officers from one-to-ten to one-to-eight or nine officers. The recommendation is one to-six-or one-to-seven, she said.
Asked whether the incident with Nichols was a failure of psychological evaluations or a failure of training, Davis said the officers had “exceptional training.”
“This is an issue of a lack of supervision,” she said. “This is a classic example of officers with a wolf pack mentality, ego and other issues that mushroomed into a very tragic situation that, as it’s been said, could have been avoided.”
Not only did the SCORPION Unit, in which the five officers charged with Nichols death worked, not have enough supervisors, but no Memphis police unit has an appropriate amount of supervisors, she said.
SCORPION, which stands for "Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods," has since been disbanded. Its officers have been moved into other organized crime units such as the auto theft task force, Davis said.
“These are individuals who were not involved in this incident,” Davis said. “We have at least 30.”
Council member Martavius Jones criticized Davis for not holding a public news conference after Nichols’ death.
Choosing to release a video rather than a news conference allowing for questions “in a highly charged situation like this” showed a lack of transparency and did not help build public trust in the department, Jones said.
Davis said she did not know how many disciplinary actions Memphis police issued in the past regarding body camera usage or duty to intervene, although the data is tracked.
Two emergency medical technicians and a Memphis firefighter were also fired after the Memphis Fire Department concluded they failed to render aid to Nichols. Sink said that department's investigation is nearly complete and she doesn't expect other officers to be charged.
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This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Tyre Nichols: 7 more Memphis police employees under investigation