We know that Memphis police mercilessly kicked, pepper-sprayed, and hit 29-year-old Tyre Nichols before taking him into custody. It gets worse, however, as new documents reveal that Demetrius Haley, one of the now-fired police officers, took photos of Nichols sitting “propped against a police car, bloodied, dazed and handcuffed.”
Haley, who “was also the officer who physically forced Nichols out of his vehicle during the initial traffic stop and deployed his chemical irritant spray ‘directly close up to the subject’s eyes,’” texted one of those photos to at least five other individuals, which included “two other Memphis officers, a ‘female acquaintance’ and a civilian employee,” according to Memphis Police Department documents that were released on Tuesday by the state.
Also documented is Haley’s behavior after beating Nichols, wherein “[h]e used profanity, laughed and ‘bragged,’” about the incident.
These documents are corroborated by surveillance video, previously released to the public, which shows one of the officers holding up his cell phone on two separate occasions, shining “a flashlight on Nichols.”
“Sending the photograph to acquaintances, including at least one outside of the Police Department, violated policies about keeping information confidential…But police officials said it was also part of a pattern of mocking, abusive and ‘blatantly unprofessional’ behavior by the officers that also included shouting profanities at Mr. Nichols, laughing after the beating and ‘bragging’ about their involvement,” the New York Times reports.
This is not the first time Haley has been accused of such misconduct—in a 2016 lawsuit, he was “previously accused of beating an inmate in Shelby County….In that case, he was accused of being one of three corrections officers who allegedly beat inmate Cordarlrius Sledge. The suit, which Sledge filed without a lawyer, was dismissed in 2018 after a judge found he had not properly served one of the defendants with a summons,” writes NBC News.
Taddarius Bean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Haley have also been “internally charged with violating the department’s policies on personal conduct, neglect of duty, excessive or unnecessary force and use of body-worn cameras,” and some face additional violations. However, these charges are not criminal.
Additionally, “[a] sixth police officer also has been fired but not charged…[and], the Fire Department fired two EMTs and a lieutenant for their inadequate response to the incident.”
Memphis’ city attorney also announced that “[s]even more officers are expected to face administrative discipline” in connection with the Nichols’ case.
Nichols died three days after being violently beat by these five police officers, causing some to wonder if the Memphis police had ensured Nichols received medical attention earlier instead of shooting photos of him for sport, if the outcome may have been different.