Records: Minor infractions for officers before Nichols case

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Four of five Memphis officers charged with killing Tyre Nichols after violently beating him had infractions on their records from previous police work.

Their transgressions were mainly procedural but included using minor physical force during an arrest and failing to fill out a form about it, failing to report a domestic violence situation, and a car crash, records showed.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show four of the five Memphis Police Department officers had policy violations on their record before the Jan. 7 arrest, but nothing that rose to the brutality that led to Nichols’ death three days later. Two of the officers were previously suspended for procedural violations of department policy.

The five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — have been fired and charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping and other offenses. Harrowing video of the arrest was released Friday.

Records showed Bean was the only officer who did not have previous infractions or penalties in his administrative records. All five were hired between March 2017 and August 2020, and all were members of a crime-suppression unit that was disbanded after Nichols’ death.

Two officers, Haley and Mills, received reprimands for failing to file “response to resistance” forms after incidents involving women they arrested, records showed.

Such forms are filled out when an officer uses force or physical means to restrain a person deemed to be resisting arrest. In the documents, Memphis police stated that response to resistance included “the use of any part of the officer’s body to compel compliance.”

Other infractions were related to car accidents and equipment issues.

Lawyers for Haley, Martin and Mills declined to comment. A lawyer for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Records showed Haley responded to a shooting on Feb. 21, 2021, “grabbed a complainant by the arm" and turned her around to be handcuffed as she resisted arrest.

During an administrative hearing, Haley said he understood the policy but was “simply mistaken” about the amount of force necessary in the situation. He received a written reprimand, records showed. A lieutenant cited in the documents for that case said Haley was a “hard-working officer” who routinely made good decisions.

Mills also received written reprimand after he “physically assisted” other officers during an arrest March 21, 2019. Mills said in his hearing that he was trying to help other officers to “gain control” of a young woman to handcuff her. Mills said he did not realize he had to fill out a response to resistance form in the case.

Records also showed Emmitt Martin III “refused to take a report” after responding to a domestic disturbance call involving two sisters. Martin was asked to take a report from the husband of one of the women, but he decided only to “advise all parties,” records showed. He was suspended for one day.

Martin also was suspended for three days after he left a gun on the rear floor of his car after a shift.

Smith received a two-day suspension after his police car was involved in a crash with two other vehicles.

Two other officers were suspended from the Memphis police force after Nichols’ arrest. Only one, Preston Hemphill, has been identified. It is not immediately known whether he had infractions on his record before the Nichols arrest.

Two Shelby County sheriff's deputies were suspended and three Memphis Fire Department employees were fired in connection with Nichols' death. His funeral is Wednesday.