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Tire Nichols police report contradicts video of brutal traffic stop before his death


Feb 1, 2023

A Memphis police report into the traffic stop of Tire Nichols portrays him as violent and aggressive and claims he tried to grab an officer’s gun, allegations that are contradicted by several videos released by authorities.

NBC News has obtained the content of the report, which has not been made public. A Memphis police spokesman said Wednesday that he was not available and did not respond to additional questions about the report.

A Shelby County spokesman said District Attorney Steve Mulroy has a report with the same account of events and the official report is expected to be released by the Memphis Police Department in a few days.

The district attorney’s spokesman said there have been questions about other officers on the scene and the possibility of false reports, and that the district attorney is investigating all of these matters.

Nichols, a 29-year-old hobby photographer and skateboarder, died three days after he was severely beaten by officers during a traffic stop on January 7.

Five fired Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder and their Scorpion unit has been permanently deactivated. Two other Memphis police officers have also been relieved of duty, and the Memphis Fire Department has fired three EMTs since the assault on Nichols.

The report does not mention that the officers repeatedly kicked and punched, actions from the encounter that can be seen in a video posted by Memphis last week.

‘Tyre Nichols took Detective Martin’s gun’

The police report, which appears to have been written about eight hours after the traffic stop, says Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving.

He was driving fast and the car was heading into oncoming traffic, according to the report. A detective asked Nichols to get out of the vehicle, according to the report, but he was uncooperative.

“Suspect Tire Nichols was refusing a lawful arrest by law enforcement officers and began fighting with detectives. Detectives noted that suspect Tire Nichols was sweating profusely and angry when he exited the vehicle,” the report states. «Detectives gave verbal orders to stop resisting and then suspect Tire Nichols grabbed Detective Martin’s gun.»

The report says one officer sprayed Nichols with an irritant and another officer deployed a stun gun, which struck Nichols in the torso but had no effect. Nichols pulled out the stun gun probes and began to run, according to the report.

Officers caught up with Nichols, who remained uncooperative and aggressive, according to the report.

“He began to actively resist by pulling on the seat belts and grabbing Officer Smith by his vest. Multiple orders were given to him to stop resisting, which he ignored,” the report says. “The chemical agent was deployed again and it was ineffective. Detective Mills unfurled his department-issued ASP baton as he verbally commanded him to stop resisting punching him multiple times in the right arm trying to get suspect Tire Nichols to comply.”

The report calls Nichols a suspect and Martin, a detective, the victim and lists the offense as aggravated assault.

It does not establish that the officers repeatedly punched and kicked Nichols in the head and face, although they are seen doing so in the traffic stop video.

The report is not supported by video footage.

Body camera video shows an officer arriving at the traffic stop pointing a gun. Another yells, «You’re going to get busted.»

Nichols is pulled from his car by an officer, video shows.

Multiple officers hover around him while he’s on the ground, yelling sometimes conflicting orders.

Nichols tells the officers, «I’m on the ground!» before it looks like he’s being sprayed with a chemical irritant, the video shows.

Nichols broke free of the officers and ran to his mother’s neighborhood. Other body camera videos and a pole-mounted police surveillance camera show officers reaching out to him and then repeatedly punching and kicking him in the face. He too was hit with a baton.

Videos show Nichols was mugged about 80 yards from his mother’s house while yelling for her help.

Staff suspended, fired, accused

Five police officers were fired Jan. 20 after an administrative investigation found they violated the department’s use of force policy. The officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, were hired from 2017 to 2020.

They were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression, and one count of aggravated assault.

Attorneys for Mills and Martin have said their clients plan to plead not guilty.

A representative of the union that represents rank and file officers, the Memphis Police Association, could not be reached for comment.

Police announced this week that two other officers have been relieved of their duties. Preston Hemphill, who was at the opening scene and whose body camera was released publicly, was named as the officer who fired a stun gun. A seventh officer was also relieved of duty. That officer has not been named by police.

Hemphill’s attorney, Lee Gerald, confirmed Monday that his client was at the traffic stop and had activated his body camera.

He said the officer was never present at the scene where five officers charged with second-degree murder and other crimes were seen beating Nichols.

Three EMTs who responded to the scene were fired Monday, the Memphis Fire Department said.

Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker were found to have violated multiple department policies and protocols in their response to the patient, the fire department said in a statement.

Long, Whitaker and Sandridge have not responded to requests for comment.

Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies have also been relieved of their duties pending an administrative investigation, Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. announced Jan. 27.