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First round of decertification moves forward for former MPD officers in the Tyre Nichols' case

The Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission held a hearing Thursday, and is expected to move forward on some of the requests Friday.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (P.O.S.T.) will vote Friday on the decertification for three of the Memphis Police officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols, “for decertification based on termination for violating department policy.” 

MPD also requested decertification for two more officers, and another has surrendered his certification. And after MPD said there was a misunderstanding over a now-retired supervisor, they are moving forward with a request for his decertification.

P.O.S.T. hearing Thursday

Thursday, MPD requested that the decertification for Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, and Justin Smith move forward after the three were found to have defaulted by failing to show up or have a representative at the P.O.S.T. hearing in Nashville. 

P.O.S.T. is expected to vote on those decertifications Friday morning. The three will all have an opportunity to appeal any decision.

MPD has also requested the decertification for Taddarius Bean and Preston Hemphill. The hearing for those will happen once they are placed on the agenda.

Desmond Mills surrendered his certification, and P.O.S.T is expected to accept the surrender Friday.

Latest on former MPD Lt. DeWayne Smith

Memphis Police also moved forward Thursday with a decertification request for former MPD Lt. Dewayne Smith, who was on the scene of the Tyre Nichols beating but retired with benefits a day before a hearing to fire him. 

The lieutenant was not placed on Thursday's agenda, because there is a 30-day notification period for Lt. Smith or a representative to appear.

MPD previously requested the P.O.S.T. decertification for Lt. Smith, but then asked to rescind the request. P.O.S.T. called on the department to answer questions as to why it was going back on the decertification request. Then Thursday morning, MPD halted that request to stop the decertification.

In a news release, MPD said called its request to P.O.S.T. to rescind the decertification request for Lt. Smith a misunderstanding.

MPD claims the department was unsure if they could decertify an officer who retired before a pending termination. They wanted to delay the hearing until additional clarity could be found, but later found that “clarity” and moved forward requesting the decertification. 

Full MPD release on Lt. DeWayne Smith

"Several members of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) are scheduled to testify today before the P.O.S.T. Commission to request that former MPD Lieutenant DeWayne Smith be decertified as a law enforcement officer. The MPD Inspectional Services Bureau and a representative from the police academy will attend the meeting today.

An internal discussion occurred concerning the department's ability to decertify an officer who retires prior to being terminated. Consequently, the MPD wanted to delay the decertification hearing for former MPD Lieutenant DeWayne Smith to further ensure that our intent to decertify him was permissible. However, internally, the request to delay the hearing until additional clarifying information could be obtained was misunderstood.

After further internal discussions and a review of the P.O.S.T. rules, clarity was obtained about what actions a law enforcement agency could take concerning the decertifying of an officer who retires from being separated. Therefore, our Inspectional Services Bureau and Academy Director will appear before the P.O.S.T. Commission today to request former MPD Lieutenant DeWayne Smith be decertified for cause."

Controversy over Lt. Smith's retirement

Lt. DeWayne Smith was identified Friday in official records as the officer that officials said earlier this month had retired before his termination hearing.

Some Memphis City Council members were upset an officer was allowed to retire before steps could be taken to fire them, including the council's vice-chairman JB Smiley Jr., who said it didn’t seem fair that the then-unidentified officer could keep pension and other benefits.

The attorney for Nichols' family said the department should not have let Smith “cowardly sidestep the consequences of his actions” and retire after 25 years.

"We call for Memphis police and officials to do everything in their power to hold Lt. Smith and all of those involved fully accountable," attorney Ben Crump said.

Seven other Memphis officers were fired after Nichols died following a traffic stop on Jan. 7 and five of them are charged with second-degree murder. Lt. DeWayne Smith is not charged in Nichols' death.

Nichols, 29, was pulled roughly from his car as an officer threatened to shock him with a Taser. He ran, but was chased down. Video showed five officers held him down and repeatedly struck him with their fists, boots and batons as he screamed for his mother.

The decertification documents against Lt. Smith reveal additional details about his actions that night.

Smith heard Nichols say “I can't breathe” as he was propped up against a squad car, but failed to get him medical care or remove his handcuffs, according to the report.

Smith also didn't get reports from other officers about using force and told Nichols' family he was driving under the influence even though there was no information to support a charge, the documents said. Investigators said Smith decided without evidence that Nichols was on drugs or drunk and video captured him telling Nichols “you done took something" when he arrived at the scene.

Additionally, Smith did not wear his body camera — violating police department policy. His actions were captured on the body cameras of other officers, documents said.

MPD under review

The U.S. Department of Justice is currently reviewing the Memphis Police Department policies on the use of force, de-escalation strategies and specialized units in response to Nichols' death.

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