Officer accused of fatally beating Tire Nichols allegedly assaulted an inmate, 2016 lawsuit says

One of five former Memphis, Tennessee, police officers accused of fatally beating 29-year-old Tire Nichols during a traffic stop this month, was charged in 2016 with participating in a prison assault that left a man unconscious. inmate, according to a federal civil rights complaint. .

The complaint, filed in April 2016 in the US District Court in Tennessee, says the officer, Demetrius Haley, was one of three corrections officers who allegedly assaulted Cordarlrius Sledge while behind bars in the county. of Shelby, according to the lawsuit.

The suit, which Sledge filed without an attorney, was dismissed in 2018 after a judge found he failed to properly serve a subpoena on one of the defendants.

Judge Thomas Anderson did not address Sledge’s allegations in the March 2, 2018 order.

According to the complaint, Sledge said that on May 16, 2015, officers searched his cell block at the Shelby County Correctional Division, which houses inmates serving sentences for misdemeanors and felony prison terms of up to 12 years.

The officers charged him with dumping “contraband” after seeing smoke in the area where he was, according to the lawsuit.

Sledge accused Haley and another officer of punching him in the face, according to the lawsuit. A third officer picked up Sledge and slammed him face-first into the sink and into the floor, the lawsuit alleges.

Former Memphis Police Officer Demetrius Haley.Memphis Police Department via AP

“After that I passed out,” Sledge said in the lawsuit, adding that he woke up in the prison medical unit.

Sledge said he wanted the officers “held for their actions,” the lawsuit says.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Sledge declined to comment.

Haley did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Efforts to contact the other two officers were unsuccessful. An attorney who represented Haley and one of the other officers did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday; neither did a spokeswoman for the Memphis mayor’s office.

The Shelby County Division of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

In a June 2017 court filing, Haley and a second officer acknowledged searching Sledge after he allegedly dumped contraband, but denied hitting him. In a separate filing later that year, they argued that the lawsuit should have been dismissed because Sledge failed to properly follow the jail’s complaint process system.

The judge dismissed Sledge’s lawsuit after he failed to provide the correct address for a defendant who could not be located.

In the case of Nichols, who died three days after a traffic stop on Jan. 7, Haley and four other officers were fired after an administrative review accused them of violating multiple policies, including the use of excessive force, during the arrest. detention.

Preliminary findings of an autopsy released Tuesday by lawyers for Nichols’ family show that he suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating” before his death. The Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause of death. Nichols’s family hired a forensic pathologist to review her case.

After reviewing body camera video from the traffic stop, the family’s lawyers compared the beating to the one suffered by Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991.

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