Two Memphis Fire employees relieved of duty in connection to Tyre Nichols’ death, internal investigation ongoing

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 11:20 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two Memphis Fire personnel were relieved of duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation in connection to Tyre Nichols’ death.

MFD says the employees were involved in the initial patient care of Tyre Nichols.

At a community meeting in Hickory Hill, Councilman J.B. Smiley told Action News 5 the two MFD employees relieved of duty were EMTs.

Councilman J.B. Smiley, Councilman Martavius Jones, and Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson hosted a Super 8 District community meeting in Hickory Hill, near the area where the traffic stop that led to Tyre Nichols’ death occurred.

City leaders began the meeting Monday night with a moment of silence for Tyre Nichols and offering their condolences.

“It’s so heart-wrenching and it’s in my district as well,” said Councilwoman Patrice Robinson. “But we want everyone to know that our number one goal is safety.”

Councilman J.B. Smiley tells us the EMTs were in the ambulance on Jan. 7.

“I think Director Sweat took the necessary position of immediately removing them from duty,” said Councilman Smiley. “I think that’s what has to be done. We have to send a very strong message that any type of misconduct will not be allowed to go on in the city administration.”

Councilwoman Robinson was not aware of the MFD internal investigation and the EMTs relieved of duty but says there’s a concern.

“There is concern if they were not there in a timely manner and they didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” said Councilwoman Robinson. “We want action. That’s all the community is saying. Let’s do our jobs, let’s go to work and let’s support one another.”

Memphis Police Raines Precinct commander Colonel Dennis McNeil, who’s worked for MPD for more than 30 years, also shared his condolences.

“I would like to personally apologize for any actions that the Memphis Police Department may have been involved with,” said Colonel McNeil. “I agree with Councilman Jones that those actions from those few officers are not indicative of the entire police department.”

Councilman Smiley says city leaders not only offer their condolences, but a commitment to work together to make sure nothing like this happens again.

" I could just imagine what my mother would do if it was me,” said Councilman Smiley. “We’re going to do what we can, there’s no way that we can right it but we can advocate for justice and I think that every member of the Memphis City Council will be doing that going forward.”

The names of the MFD employees have not been released.

People from all over came together in solidarity for Tyre Nichols at Mount Olive Cathedral CME church Monday.

His parents poured their hearts out about their youngest son, who they say was murdered by five Black Memphis police officers.

Those five officers were fired Friday for their involvement in Nichols’ traffic stop earlier this month: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith.

“I know everybody says that they had a good son and everybody’s son is good, but my son, he actually was a good boy,” said Nichols’ mother, Rowvaughn Wells.

Both Rodney and Rowvaughn Wells said their son was known for being a talented skateboarder and loving father to his four-year-old son.

On Monday, they, along with civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci, watched a three-minute video of Nichols’ Jan. 7 arrest after he was pulled over by unmarked police officers for a traffic violation.

Crump says the video shows Nichols’ being pepper sprayed, tased, and beaten.

“He was defenseless, the entire time,” said Romanucci. “He was a human piñata.”

Crump added, “The last words on the video... he is only about 80 to 100 yards from his house. He calls for his mom. Three times. ‘Mom’... he calls for his mom.”

Crump said the video was appalling, heinous, and violent on every level.

“We’re seeing evidence of what happens to Black and brown people from simple traffic stops,” Crump said. “You should not be killed from a simple traffic stop.”

MPD determined the officers involved violated multiple policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.

The Memphis Fire Department also confirmed Monday that two MFD personnel who were involved in taking care of Nichols have been relieved of duty while an internal investigation is being conducted.

“My son was a great, great kid, he didn’t deserve what he got, now he deserves justice,” said Rodney Wells.

Now that the Nichols family had a chance to view the video privately, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy released a statement saying in part:

The video will not be publicly released until later this week or next week... once the internal investigation is complete.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, FBI, and Department of Justice are also investigating this case.

The Nichols family and attorneys ask for patience from the public and that any protests be peaceful.

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