More than a dozen Memphis police and fire department employees have been charged in connection with the fatal beating of Tire Nichols, a city official said Tuesday as it wrapped up its investigation into Nichols’ death in January.
Memphis Legal Director Jennifer Sink said both agencies have been conducting administrative investigations to determine if any employees violated department policies.
Four members of the Memphis Fire Department were charged, Sink said in a presentation before the Memphis City Council Public Safety Committee.
Three of the employees were fired, Sink said, and one was suspended. It is unclear what the exact charges against him are. Sink said more information will be released on Wednesday, along with 20 hours of video and audio from the January 7 beating.
The three fired employees were previously identified as EMTs Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker. The fire department said in a statement that they were found to have violated multiple department policies and protocols in their response to Nichols.
The fourth employee has not been identified.
The city’s investigation also resulted in the indictment of 13 police department employees, though two were ultimately dismissed, Sink said.
Seven of them were fired, three received suspensions and one withdrew before a hearing could be held, according to Sink.
A committee member questioned whether any officers who hit Nichols were still employed by the department. Sink said one of the suspended officers «placed his hands» on Nichols’ legs.
«But that was not a strike or an assault,» he said. «He received a suspension as a result of his participation.»
Five police officers were previously fired and criminally charged for their involvement in Nichols’ death. They are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith. All were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression, and one count of aggravated assault.
Preston Hemphill and another anonymous officer were «relieved of duty».
Police initially said they pulled over Nichols, 29, for reckless driving, but Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said her office found no evidence to substantiate the claim. In a video released in January, officers apparently pepper-sprayed him, beat him, beat him with a baton and kicked him in the face while he was in custody.
He was eventually taken to the hospital where he died three days later.
Lawyers for Nichols’ family said the beating was reminiscent of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. Ravaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, said her son was just trying to get home when police stopped him.
“He was two minutes from the house when they stopped him,” he said during a news conference in January. “He was less than 80 yards away when he was killed. Yes, I said murder… because when I walked into that hospital room, my son was already dead.»