Memphis City Attorney Says Seven More Police Officers Face Disciplinary Action for Tire Nichols Beating | CNN
Seven additional Memphis police officers face disciplinary action in the wake of the death of Tire Nichols, city attorney Jessica Sink told CNN’s Nick Valencia on Tuesday.
Officers will receive an internal “statement of charges,” a document notifying them of policy violations, followed by a hearing and a written decision, Sink said.
The action is of an internal and non-criminal nature. Sink said the final round of the plea will come this week so the agency can hold administrative hearings next week.
Already, six officers have been fired for their role in the incident, including five who have been criminally charged with second-degree murder.
The news broke during a Memphis city council meeting Tuesday where members questioned the city’s police and fire chiefs and nearly a dozen public safety proposals and reforms were discussed. It was the council’s first public hearing since the city released video of police beating Nichols.
“The month of January has profoundly affected all of us and continues to do so, serving as a clear call to action,” said Council Member Rhonda Logan. “Today our focus will be on removing the layers of public safety in our city and collaborating on legislation that moves us forward in smart and impactful ways.”
The council’s Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security was set to accept 11 proposals in all, including an ordinance to establish a procedure for an independent review of police training; an ordinance to clarify the “proper” ways to conduct traffic stops; an ordinance to require police to only conduct traffic stops with marked cars; and a presentation at a civil law enforcement review board, according to an online scheduler.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis and Fire Chief Gina Sweat spoke at the hearing and laid out their plans to change their departments in the future. The officials also fielded questions from council members frustrated with the answers.
The hearing comes about a month after Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, was beaten by Memphis police officers with the specialized unit SCORPION after a traffic stop not far from his family’s home. He was then taken to the hospital and died three days later.
The city released surveillance and body camera footage in late January showing officers repeatedly punching, kicking and using a baton on Nichols while his hands were restrained. He was then left without medical attention for more than 20 minutes, the video shows.
The video contradicted what the officers said happened in the initial police report, which stated that Nichols “began to fight” with the officers and at one point grabbed one of their weapons.
His death has renewed calls for police reform and reignited a national conversation about fairness in policing.
Five officers involved in the beating, all black, were fired and charged with second-degree murder. Additionally, a sixth officer was fired and a seventh was placed on leave. In addition, the Fire Department fired two EMTs and a lieutenant for failing to provide emergency care.
The specialized unit SCORPION was also disbanded, less than two years after it was launched.
Sweat, the fire chief, told the council that training issues and EMTs’ failure to take personal responsibility on a call were to blame for her department’s handling of Nichols.
The dispatch call involving Nichols came in as a report of pepper spray, Sweat said. She described it as a “fairly routine call” — there have been more than 140 pepper spray calls in the last six months — and was treated as such by EMTs and the lieutenant on the scene.
“They didn’t have the video to see what happened before they got there, so they were reacting to what they saw and what they were told at the scene,” Sweat said. “Obviously, they did not perform at the level that we expect or that the citizens of Memphis deserve.”
According to Sweat, she saw the video of Nichols’ beating when it became public, but an EMS chief had reviewed it days before. Before the video was released Friday, managers had already scheduled an administrative hearing with the employees involved for Monday, the boss said.
“They did not perform within the guidelines and policies that are already in place. And that’s why they are no longer with us,” said the fire chief.
Councilman Frank Colvett Jr. said the Fire Department’s timeline of when he saw the video was an issue.
“As a fire marshal, there is a problem. I think it is very clear to you now that solutions are required. And I understand that the procedures were not followed, and I understand that we are looking into it. But it has to be more than that. Okay, director, this has to be what we see and this is how we’re going to fix it,” Colvett said.
Davis, the police chief, told the council that there were “about 10” officers at the scene of the beating, though several did not appear on video. He also said that there were at least 30 members of the now disbanded SCORPION unit who have since been reassigned to other units.
Before her death, Nichols had worked with her stepfather at FedEx for about nine months, her family said. She liked Starbucks, skateboarding in Shelby Farms Park and photographing sunsets, and had her mother’s name tattooed on her arm, the family said. He also had the digestive problem known as Crohn’s disease, so he weighed between 140 and 150 pounds, despite being 6’3” tall, his mother said.
Nichols’ mother and stepfather, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, are among the first lady’s guests at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Biden hosted members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the White House last week to discuss police reform, which has stalled in Congress multiple times and faces an uncertain path.