The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Officer in Tyre Nichols arrest accused of brutality as jailer

- By Travis Loller and Adrian Sainz

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Years before Memphis Police officer Demetrius Haley pulled Tyre Nichols from his car on Jan. 7, setting in motion a deadly confrontat­ion, Haley was accused of taking part in the savage beating of an inmate at the Shelby County jail.

The 2015 assault of the inmate was so disturbing that 34 others — the entire cellblock — signed a letter to the correction­s director.

“We are truly asking that this matter gets looked into before someone gets hurt really bad or lose their life because of some unprofessi­onal officers,” the letter stated.

The warning from dozens of inmates is the clearest indication yet that one of the officers who took part in the violent beating of Nichols had an event in his past that should have raised concerns before he was hired as a police officer.

The letter asks how the inmates are supposed to feel “safe and secure when the staff members at the Shelby County Correction­al Center are assaulting and threatenin­g us?”

It concludes, “Please put a stop to this madness.”

Shelby County did not respond to a request Friday seeking informatio­n about its investigat­ion into the beating allegation­s, so it is unclear if Haley was discipline­d or cleared of the assault. An email was sent Friday to a police spokespers­on asking if the department knew about the incident when Haley was hired.

The former officer has been charged with second-degree murder in Nichols' death, along with ex- officers Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith. All the officers except Bean have infraction­s in their work records. Policy violations include using minor physical force during an arrest and failing to fill out a form about it; failing to report a domestic violence situation; and a car crash, records show.

The prior accusation­s against Haley came to light because the inmate, Cordarlriu­s Sledge, filed a federal lawsuit in 2016 against him. It was ultimately dismissed on procedural grounds, because Sledge had failed to file a grievance with the jail.

Haley continued to work for the Division of Correction­s until hired by Memphis Police in 2020, at a time when the department was lowering its standards for recruits in an attempt to fill vacancies. According to records in his personnel file, a previous applicatio­n to the police department was rejected, but the reason for that rejection is blacked out.

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