Decertification hearings held for 5 of 7 former MPD officers involved in Nichols traffic stop

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday’s meeting in Nashville was the next step to ensuring the officers involved in the Tyre Nichols traffic stop never practice law enforcement in the state of Tennessee ever again.

Five of the seven officers submitted by Memphis police for decertification were presented before the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission at this hearing: Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills, and DeWayne Smith.

The remaining two officers, Preston Hemphill and Tadarius Bean, were not on the POST agenda Thursday, though a spokesperson said the two will soon be on an upcoming agenda.

Preston Hemphill
Preston Hemphill(Memphis Police Department)

“We are requesting to proceed with the decertification process,” said a representative with MPD Internal Affairs.

Haley, Martin, and J. Smith all had their attorneys request the decertification decision be put into a “pending” status, pending the results of the criminal investigations these three face.

This argument could have been entertained if the three and their attorneys were present at the hearing.

None of the former officers, including Mills and D. Smith, nor their attorneys were at the hearing.

The request was denied.

“They were aware of the hearing, properly served, and were told to be here today,” one of the POST Commission members said.

Haley, Martin, and J. Smith were all recommended to be decertified.

That decision will be made at the POST Commission’s formal meeting on Friday morning.

For Desmond Mills, he voluntarily surrendered his license to the commission earlier this week.

“Mr. Mills has taken the position that he does not want to be a law enforcement officer in Tennessee,” said Mills’ attorney Blake Ballin.

Five ex-MPD officers are charged with murder in Tyre Nichols' death.
Five ex-MPD officers are charged with murder in Tyre Nichols' death.(Action News 5/SCSO)

Ballin said the decertification process was a foregone conclusion.

“They’re going to revoke these officers of their certification,” Ballin said. “I have no doubt about that. This is not important to Mr. Mills at this time. What’s important to him is his family and his freedom.”

Mills, along with Haley, Martin, J. Smith, and Bean, faces murder charges for Nichols’ death.

Their next court appearance is May 1.

As for Lt. DeWayne Smith, it was discovered at the POST hearing that he had not yet been served his notice of decertification.

You may remember Lt. Smith was allowed to retire from MPD shortly before he was to be fired for his involvement in the Tyre Nichols traffic stop.

There was a confusing back and forth between MPD and POST.

Originally, MPD requested to have Smith decertified.

They then rescinded that decision and later rescinded that decision.

Because he wasn’t served, Lt. Smith will be put on a future POST agenda with Bean and Hemphill.

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