Tyre Nichols' family 'deeply disturbed' after Memphis police lieutenant retires before disciplinary hearing about his death, attorney says

tyre nichols' family 'deeply disturbed' after memphis police lieutenant retires before disciplinary hearing about his death, attorney says

People protest in Memphis following the release of video showing the deadly encounter between police and Tyre Nichols Shameka Wilson for Insider

  • A Memphis police lieutenant retired one day before his disciplinary hearing on Tyre Nichols’ death.
  • Nichols family is “deeply disturbed” at the police department’s decision to allow the retirement, their attorney said in a statement. 
  • Attorney Ben Crump said Lt. Dewayne Smith’s decision to retire is a “cowardly sidestep to his actions.”

The family of Tyre Nichols is “deeply disturbed” after a Memphis police lieutenant retired ahead of a hearing over Nichol’s death where he was expected to be terminated, according to reports.

Lt. Dewayne Smith, the senior-most officer on the scene when police beat Tyre Nichols, who died days later from his injuries in early January, filed for retirement on March 1, according to WMC. Smith was scheduled for a disciplinary hearing on March 2 for policy violations of neglect of duty, unauthorized public statements, and compliance with regulations, internal documents reviewed by the station showed.

Smith did not appear at the March 2 hearing, according to WMC. The Memphis Police Department did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.

Five Memphis Police Department officers have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Nichols’ death. Body camera footage showed the five police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — punching, kicking, and pepper-spraying Nichols’ after pulling him from his car during a traffic stop on a street not far from his mother’s home.

Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents Nichols’ family, said that the family is “deeply disturbed that Memphis Police allowed and accepted the retirement of Lt. Dewayne Smith, in light of his immediately pending disciplinary hearing,” in a statement provided to Insider.

Crump called for Memphis police to do “everything in their power” to hold Smith and all other officers involved in Smith’s death to be held accountable and called Smith’s retirement a “cowardly sidestep the consequences of his actions.”

“His cowardice in resigning and not facing his own disciplinary board to defend himself is not an end-around on accountability or reckoning,” Crump said in the statement.

MPD documents say that Smith failed to ask other officers on the scene about their use of force, even though he saw injuries on Nichols’ face, and did not direct medical personnel to help Nichols after witnessing him saying “I can’t breathe” after the beating, WMC reports.

Smith was also accused of making an improper statement to Nichols’ family by telling them he had been charged with a DUI, which was not true, according to the outlet.

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