At least one of the five Memphis police officers charged with murdering Tyre Nichols is facing additional scrutiny for his actions leading up to the deadly traffic stop. The officer also faces accusations he allegedly took photos of a beaten-up Nichols and sent them to six other people according to new documents.
Former officer Demetrius Haley stood over a beaten and handcuffed Nichols and took photos of him as he lay propped up against a police car according to the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.
Haley reportedly took the photos on his personal cellphone and sent the photos to others in and outside of the police department.
“Haley admitted he shared the photo in a text message with five people; one civilian employee, two MPD officers and one female acquaintance,” the Commercial Appeal reported.
In addition to the five, a sixth person also received the photo according to the New York Times.
Haley can be seen taking the photos in one of the graphic videos released by the City of Memphis. The SkyCop camera which was mounted on top of a utility pole produced an overhead shot of Nichols being held by officers as others took turns punching, kicking and hitting him with a baton. The SkyCop camera also captured Haley snapping photos.
As Nichols was being propped up against the police car, Haley shines a flashlight on Nichols to take the photos.
Details of the photos of Nichols were part of a set of documents produced by the Memphis Police Department to decertify the officers involved.
The documents also revealed more details on how Nichols’ traffic stop began. Haley was driving his unmarked police car while wearing a black hoodie according to reports. He was also talking on a cellphone as he yelled profanities towards Nichols.
“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,” the decertification document said.
Haley also never told Nichols the purpose of the traffic stop nor did he tell him he was under arrest. In the video released, as Nichols was forcibly pulled out of his vehicle he said to the officers, “I didn’t do anything, I’m not doing anything.”
The officers reported the stop as a “confrontation” with a reckless driver. However, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis later said there was no evidence of reckless driving by Nichlos.
“Your on-duty conduct was unjustly, blatantly unprofessional and unbecoming for a sworn public servant” the decertification documents said of the officers, The Associated Press reported.
“You and other officers were captured on body-worn camera making multiple unprofessional comments, laughing, bragging about your involvement,” the documents said.
Memphis Police Department policy prohibits officers from using personal cellphones while performing patrol duties, The New York Times reports.
Although the officers can’t use their cellphones while engaging in their official duties, at least one bystander used their cellphone to capture part of the violent arrest.
“Your conversation and lack of concern for the injured subject was witnessed by a civilian who took photographs and cellphone video,” the decertification report said according to Business Insider.
Prior to releasing documents confirming Haley took photos, speculation arose among people online questioning if one of the officers indeed took photos.
R&B singer, Benny S. asked on Twitter, “Why is he taking the photos? what he was doing on the phone afterward? Need this answered at trial.”
“There is so much more to this story that needs to be told. This was not a traffic stop encounter. There has to be another reason these cops went after this guy,” Ed Segovis said on Facebook.
Other people are beginning to draw unconfirmed connections between Haley, Nichols and one of the recipients of the photos.
“Turns out #TyreNichols worked at Fed Ex and Demetrius Haley’s ex and mother of his child worked at Fed Ex. Demetrius took a picture of Tyre on the ground and sent it to his ex. All the officers involved went out bad over this man’s personal issue,” Mark Breedlove said on Facebook.
“If this is true, That he would take the time to text this photograph shows what a depraved person he is. It also seems to hint that there is truth to the rumor of why Tyre was attacked……it was personal and premeditated!!” Lavenia Nesmith wrote on Facebook.
Nichols’ death sparked protests and condemnation of the Memphis Police Department’s now-defunct SCORPION unit, which the charged officers were members of.
Nichols was laid to rest on Feb. 1, when his family was joined by their attorney Ben Crump, Rev. Al Sharpton and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The five officers facing second-degree murder and other charges are expected to be arraigned on Feb. 17.