Five Memphis police officers were fired Friday after the chief said they violated department policies during a traffic stop in Tennessee earlier this month that ended with the hospitalization and death of a 29-year-old man.
An administrative investigation by Memphis police found that officers allegedly violated multiple policies, including the use of excessive force, the duty to intervene and the duty to render assistance at the traffic stop of Tire Nichols on Jan. 7, the police said. Police Chief CJ Davis in a statement.
The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were hired between 2017 and 2020.
“The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and upholding the rights of all citizens of our city,” Davis said. “The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work our officers do, with integrity, every day.”
Efforts to contact the officers on Friday were unsuccessful.
In an emailed statement, Memphis Police Association president Lt. Essica Cage-Rosario cited an ongoing criminal investigation into Nichols’ death and declined to comment on the officers’ firing.
“The citizens of Memphis and, more importantly, the family of Mr. Nichols deserve to know the full account of the events leading up to his death and what may have contributed to it,” he said.
In a statement, attorneys for the family said the firing of the officers was a first step toward justice for Nichols and his family.
“They must also be held accountable for taking the life of this man and his son from a father,” attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a joint statement.
The statement added that they would review body camera video of the traffic stop in the coming days, “providing clarity on what led to the loss of this young man, father and son. We will continue to demand transparency and accountability in this case.” and he will not stop until we achieve full justice for Tire and his family.”
Authorities have said officers pulled over Nichols for reckless driving on Jan. 7. A “standoff” ensued, the department said at the time, and officers pursued Nichols as he fled on foot.
While trying to stop Nichols, there was another confrontation and Nichols complained of having difficulty breathing, the department said.
Nichols died three days later.
Authorities have not provided details about the standoff.
A photo provided by his stepfather showed Nichols hospitalized with blood on his face and what appeared to be a swollen eye.
The case is also being reviewed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department, which announced earlier this week that it had opened a civil rights investigation.