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MPD officer involved in Tyre Nichols death previously beat an inmate unconscious, lawsuit claims

Demetrius Haley is one of five officers fired Friday for their involvement in Nichols' death. He previously worked at the Shelby County Division of Corrections.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As details continue to emerge in the Jan. 7 confrontation that led to the death of 29-yeear-old Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis Police officers, we're starting to learn more about the officers involved. For one of these officers, Nichols' death seems to not be the first time he's been accused of excessive force while on duty.

Demetrius Haley, who formerly worked for the Shelby County Division of Corrections as a corrections officer, was cited in a 2016 civil rights lawsuit for allegedly beating an inmate to unconsciousness.

According to the lawsuit, Haley was named as one of two officers who allegedly assaulted the inmate during a random search. 

The lawsuit said Haley accused the inmate of flushing contraband down a toilet, and then punched the inmate in the face. Another officer slammed the inmate into a sink, the lawsuit said, and he then lost consciousness, waking up in a medical unit. 

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2018 due to the inmate not filing a grievance against Haley and the other officer on time, and Haley was hired by MPD in 2020.

Haley was fired Friday for his involvement in the death of Tyre Nichols, along with Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith. 

In a statement, MPD said the actions of these officers were "egregious" in nature:

The Memphis Police Department has concluded its administrative investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols. After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five (5) MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.

Earlier today, each officer charged was terminated from the Memphis Police Department. The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city. The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, ever day.

A hearing was held Friday on the disciplinary process for the officers involved.

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