State decertifying ex-officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death

The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission officially approved the decertification recommendations on Friday, barring the officers from serving in law enforcement in Tennessee in the future. 

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Tennessee is decertifying four out of five fired Memphis police officers charged in Tyre Nichols‘ beating death after an internal affairs investigation revealed they violated multiple department policies.

The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST), the state’s law enforcement certification and decertification board, recommended decertification Thursday for Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith and Emmitt Martin III, and on Friday, it moved ahead with the action and approved Desmond Mills Jr.’s decision to give up his certification, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Decertification would bar the men from serving in law enforcement in Tennessee in the future. 

The four ex-officers and former colleague Tadarrius Bean have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges for their roles in Nichols’ Jan. 7 beating in Memphis and his death, which came three days later.

The former Memphis police officers accused of murder in the death of Tyre Nichols appeared with their attorneys Feb 17 at an indictment hearing at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis. Tennessee is decertifying four of the five officers facing charges. The fifth officer retired before his termination hearing. (Photo: Brandon Dill/AP)

Thursday’s hearing in Nashville occurred without the ex-officers or their attorneys present.

POST will also consider decertification for Lt. DeWayne Smith, a 24-year veteran who supervised the officers yet retired on March 1, before he could be fired.

Nichols’ family lawyer said the department should not have permitted Smith to retire before his termination hearing and “cowardly sidestep the consequences of his actions,” according to Associated Press.

“We call for Memphis police and officials to do everything in their power to hold Lt. Smith and all of those involved fully accountable,” said attorney Ben Crump, AP reported.

Nichols, 29, was forcibly removed from his vehicle as an officer threatened to stun him with a Taser. He ran, but officers chased him down. Body camera footage showed that the five officers criminally charged in his death held him down and struck him repeatedly with their fists, boots and batons as he called for his mother.

According to decertification documents, Smith, who is not charged in Nichols’ death, heard him remark “I can’t breathe” while propped up against a squad car, but did not take him to the hospital or remove his handcuffs.

According to The Commerical Appeal, the Memphis Police Department initially moved to delay Smith’s decertification, raising questions about whether the move was possible for a retired officer. Representatives for the department shared on Thursday that it plans to proceed with the decertification.

The former lawmen will have 30 days to appeal the decertification decision.

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