One of the former Memphis Police officers charged in last month’s brutal beating death of Tyre Nichols used his personal smartphone to take photos of the handcuffed and bloodied black man, according to records released on Tuesday.
The latest revelations shine the spotlight back on rumors being investigated by The Tennessee Star that Officer Demetrius Haley and his fellow Scorpion Unit law enforcement colleagues were targeting Nichols because of a relationship he allegedly had with Haley’s ex-wife.
“On [Haley’s] personal cell phone, [Haley] took two photographs while standing in front of the obviously injured subject after he was handcuffed,” states the document obtained through media public records requests. “[Haley] admitted [he] shared the photo in a text message with five people; one civilian employee, two MPD officers, and one female acquaintance.”
The record was filed by the Memphis Police Department with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), Tennessee’s police certification board. MPD sought to have Haley and officers Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills and Emmitt Martin III decertified. The officers, all black, have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other felonies in connection to the Jan. 7 traffic stop and subsequent brutal beating of Nichols.
Video images of the officers repeatedly hitting, kicking and stomping Nichols as he cried out for his mother shocked the nation.
A sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, has been fired on allegations that he violated multiple department policies during Nichols’ arrest, according to the Associated Press.
The document detailing Haley’s photographs of Nichols was first reported by The New York Times.
Last week, a Memphis Police Department spokeswoman told The Star that there was no evidence that claims Nichols was targeted in the brutal police beating because he was involved with the spouse of one of the officers were true. It seemed like a non-denial denial at the time.
Newsweek subsequently reported that investigators were indeed looking into the reported relationship.
“All of this is still under investigation. Those are the things, along with the participation of others, that [are] now the subject of our investigation,” a spokesperson for Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told the publication in response.
Erica Williams, director of communications at the Shelby County District Attorney’s office, clarified to Newsweek that rumors about Nichols having a connection to the woman have not been “confirmed.”
“We know that there have been questions about other officers and Fire Department personnel on the scene, persons remotely operating cameras, the potential of false reporting, among other things. We are now at the stage of our investigation where we are looking into all of these matters,” Williams told Newsweek.
Law enforcement officials do not identify in the filing with POST the five people Haley shared his photos with, including the “female acquaintance.”
Nichols’ parents have disputed the rumors that their son was involved with the spouse or significant other of any of the former police officers.
Attempts to reach Memphis Police officials Tuesday evening were not successful.
See page 77 of the PDF below for statement police officer texted photos of the beaten Tyre Nichols to female acquaintance and four others
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Image “Tyre Nichols Attack” by the City of Memphis.