Police supervisor in Tire Nichols death retired with benefits day before dismissal hearing: reports

The police supervisor who responded to the scene of Tire Nichols’ arrest retired with benefits the day before his dismissal hearing, according to media reports.

Lt. DeWayne Smith, who spent 25 years with the Memphis police, was facing disciplinary charges for dereliction of duty, unauthorized public statements and compliance with regulations, when he submitted his retirement on March 1, reported Memphis’ Action News 5. His disciplinary hearing was scheduled for March 2.

During the Jan. 7 arrest that ultimately led to Nichols’ death, Smith failed to get the 29-year-old medical attention or remove his handcuffs, although he heard him say, “I can’t breathe,” according to NBC News.

Nichols was brutally beaten by several Memphis police officers during the traffic stop in early January and died three days later from his injuries. Although he noticed Nichols’ injuries, Smith failed to get reports from the other officers about their use of force.

Smith also told Nichols’ family that he had driven under the influence, although there was no evidence to support such a conclusion, and that he had not worn his body camera during the arrest in violation of department policy, NBC News reported.

“It is extremely disturbing that (the Memphis Police Department) has accepted the retirement of this senior officer!” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, said in a tweet.

“Police and officials in Memphis should do everything in their power to hold Lt. Smith accountable and not let his cowardly resignation avoid the consequences of his actions!” he added.

Seven officers were fired after Nichols’ death, including five charged with second-degree murder. Three members of the Memphis Fire Department were also fired for their failure to provide medical attention to Nichols.


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