More shady news surrounding the case of Tyre Nichols has been revealed.
Lt. DeWayne Smith, the Memphis Police Department supervisor at the scene while Nichols was beaten to death, retired with full benefits—one day before a hearing to terminate him. HuffPost reports that documents were filed to revoke his law enforcement certification, and several city officials were upset after finding out. JB Smiley Jr., Memphis City Council’s vice-chairman, said it’s unfair. “I just don’t like the fact that his parents are paying this officer to go on and live and that’s troubling,” Smiley said.
Smith’s retirement comes after 25 years on the job, something the Nichols’ family says was his way to “cowardly sidestep the consequences of his actions.” Family attorney and civil rights activist Ben Crump is calling on the police department to do something about it. “We call for Memphis police and officials to do everything in their power to hold Lt. Smith and all of those involved fully accountable,” Crump said, as reported by CBS News.
Smith was front and center on Jan. 7 when Nichols was propped up on a car after being beaten by five Black Memphis police officers. Decertification documents show Smith heard Nichols say, “I can’t breathe,” but failed to get him medical treatment or remove his handcuffs. On top of not wearing his body camera, which violates police department policy, the disgraced lieutenant didn’t demand reports from other officers on the scene about using force. He also told Nichols’ family he was driving under the influence without evidence to support the claim.
In documents provided by investigators, Smith used his power to decide Nichols was on drugs or drunk. On a video, Smith can be heard telling Nichols, “you done took something,” after arriving on the scene.
In his retirement letter, Smith said it was “an honor” to serve with the department. “During these years I have been blessed to some challenging assignments with some great people,” he wrote. “Retirement from the department was not an easy decision, I came to realize that the time has come to move on.”