Memphis Police Department via AP
- Former Memphis officer Demetrius Haley never told Tyre Nichols why he was pulled over.
- Department records say Haley approached Nichols while talking on the phone in a black hoodie.
- He yelled profanities, despite no evidence that Nichols ever swore at or threatened officers.
When Tyre Nichols was pulled over at E. Raines and Ross roads in Memphis on January 7, a Memphis officer wearing a black hoodie jumped out of his unmarked car and approached him yelling profanities while talking on the phone, according to a police decertification record provided to Insider.
Then-officer Demetrius Haley, who has since been fired and charged with Nichols’ murder, never told the 29-year-old driver why he stopped his car, according to the records, which were provided to Insider in response to a public records request.
“You exited your unmarked vehicle stopped in an opposing traffic lane and you forced the driver out of his vehicle while using loud profanity and wearing a black sweatshirt hoodie over your head,” a statement of charges sent to Haley on January 14 reads. “You never told the driver the purpose of the vehicle stop or that he was under arrest.”
A day after Nichols’ beating, the department released a statement describing a “confrontation” with an alleged reckless driver, later identified as Tyre Nichols. Police Chief CJ Davis later said there was no evidence that Nichols ever drove recklessly.
Haley — who joined the department in August 2020 and was a member of the now-disbanded SCORPION unit — is one of the five officers charged with the murder of Nichols.
Haley, along with Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr., pulled Nichols over less than 100 yards from his mother’s home on Jan. 7 and beat him so severely he died in the hospital three days later.
Nichols’ death and the release of the video of his brutal beating prompted national protests against police brutality and led to the disbandment of the SCORPION unit.
Within 20 days, the five officers were charged with murder. Two other officers have been on paid administrative leave, and seven remain under investigation by the department on internal charges.
The Memphis police department’s internal charges against Haley, which resulted in his termination, said that Haley and the other officers were caught on body-worn camera making unprofessional comments, including “that muthafucka made me spray myself,” as they laughed and bragged about their involvement.
“Your conversation and lack of concern for the injured subject was witnessed by a civilian who took photographs and cell phone video,” the report said.
There was no audio on the body camera that indicated Nichols ever used profanity or any violent threats toward the officers, according to the report.
“You also were on an active cell phone call where the person overheard the police encounter,” the record said.
By the time of Nichols’ beating, Haley had already racked up a short list of departmental violations, including a failure to write up a use of force report after his colleague ripped a woman out of her car in 2021 just for laughing inside with her aunt.
Video from the scene of Nichols’ killing showed the group of officers kicking, punching, and pepper spraying Nichols as he told them he was trying to get home and called out for his mom.
An attorney for Martin had previously said that none of the officers intended for Nichols to die, but an attorney for Nichols’ family told Insider in Memphis that their “actions were designed to kill.”