Police Accountability

A Tennessee Oversight board has received a request to decertify six officers involved in the killing of Nichols

The Memphis Police Department has formally requested that a state oversight board permanently bar six former police officers involved in the beating death of Tyre Nichols from ever holding positions in law enforcement again. 

Nichols, a 29-year-old delivery driver, father, and skateboarding enthusiast was killed in January, succumbing to his injuries days after a group of police officers brutalized him with fists and batons in the aftermath of a traffic stop. Five of the officers involved have been charged with second-degree murder in relation to the killing. 

According to a report from the New York Times, the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission has received a request to decertify six officers who were fired as a result of the case, and one who resigned in its aftermath: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., Preston Hemphill, and Justin Smith. The commission has already determined that three of the officers be decertified, as they failed to appear for their hearings. A fourth officer, Mills, declined to challenge the recommendation and agreed to surrender his certification. The hearings for officers Bean and Hemphill have yet to be scheduled. 

The decertification would prevent the officers from working in law enforcement in the state. 


In the aftermath of Nichols’ death, the Memphis police department has made moves at attempted reforms in the city’s policing. In January, the department announced that it would be disbanding the “Scorpion Unit”— a specialized anti-violence unit to which the charged officers belonged. 

The officers charged in the case have pled not-guilty, and are scheduled to next appear in court in May. 


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