Tire Nichols: Newly obtained documents identify senior officer when arrested, show he retired before he could be fired


A Memphis Police Department lieutenant has now been identified as being at the scene after Tire Nichols was arrested, and according to police records obtained by CNN, chose to retire earlier this month ahead of a hearing disciplinary on the case where he would have been dismissed.

In a Feb. 28 letter, notarized by the agency’s human resources department, Lt. Dewayne Smith wrote, “It has been an honor to serve the city I call home for the past 25 years. During these years, I had the chance to accomplish stimulating tasks with wonderful people. »

Previously, Smith had not been publicly identified as having been at the scene of the incident. He would have arrived on the scene and not immediately “taken command” in a supervisory role.

Smith had been in the service since 1998 and was reportedly the highest ranking officer on the scene.

In documents dated Jan. 27, a month before Smith quit, he was told of the disciplinary charges against him and a hearing was set for March.

Smith has not been criminally charged in connection with Nichols’ death.

Nichols, 29, was repeatedly punched and kicked by several Memphis police officers during a traffic stop on January 7. He was hospitalized after the traffic check and died three days later.

Five officers who were later fired from the department face criminal charges of second-degree murder, among other charges. They pleaded not guilty in February and are due back in court in May.

The disciplinary hearing was held for Smith on March 2 in his absence, and officials determined that Smith should have been fired for his role on the day of Nichols’ beating.

In a statement from the police department on the disciplinary charges dated March 10, Smith allegedly “failed to obtain relevant information from officers involved in a critical use of force incident.”

“You did not ask significant questions such as the amount or type of force used by each of your officers involved that would have aided in a prompt and thorough investigation at the scene…” the document states.

The document goes on to say that in his statement to investigators, Smith “did not provide or suggest any immediate medical assistance” despite seeing blood pouring from Nichols’ face.

“As soon as you arrived you were told that the officers had pepper sprayed and tagged the subject, but you never asked why there was blood on his face. At around 8:44 p.m. and after you arrived, the victim said “I can’t breathe” before collapsing while still handcuffed. You didn’t order any officers to remove the handcuffs so that the first emergency medical personnel would provide first aid.

The document alleges that Smith questioned Nichols as his condition worsened “and only concluded that his behavior was the result of intoxicants by saying ‘You took something, mane,'” the document states.

According to the documents, Smith had been charged with dereliction of duty, unauthorized public statements and compliance with regulations. The documents also reveal that Smith spoke with members of Nichols’ family, as well as another officer.

“You can be heard on another officer’s body camera telling family members that the subject was in custody for impaired driving. You haven’t obtained enough information at the scene to confirm these criminal charges and there were no arrest documents to support your assumption,” the document said. . “The limited details given to the family member may be perceived as an unsubstantiated accusation or a method of deception and a breach of public trust.”

The Daily Memphian was first to report the story.

In his retirement letter, Smith said, “It was not an easy decision. I realized that the time had come to move on.

CNN has reached out to the Memphis Police Association for comment.


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