Lt. DeWayne Smith, the police supervisor on the scene when Tyre Nichols was brutally beaten to death by Memphis police officers, retired with full benefits before a hearing scheduled to fire him. According to a March 19 report by the Associated Press, documents were obtained showing filings attempting to revoke his law enforcement certification before he retired to avoid termination allegedly.
The Memphis City Council’s vice chairman, JB Smiley Jr., expressed how unfair it was that Smith was able to retire before proper steps were taken to fire him as a form of reprimanding. However, Smith was able to keep his pension because he hurriedly retired.
“I just don’t like the fact that his parents are paying this officer to go on and live, and that’s troubling,” Smiley said. Nichols’ family attorney added, “We call for Memphis police and officials to do everything in their power to hold Lt. Smith and all of those involved fully accountable,” He continued to say that by retiring after 25 years of service, Smith was “cowardly sidestepping the consequences of his actions.”
The obtained documents describing the move to decertify Smith revealed his involvement in the horrific January 7 traffic stop where Nichols was beaten to death. The documents reported that Smith heard Nichols say that he “couldn’t breathe” but took no action to get him medical care or call his subordinate officers off. He also failed to properly get information from the responding officers about how they used force or the details of the traffic stop; the former Lt. had falsely conveyed details about Nichols’ physical state without evidence upon his arrival at the scene. In addition to this, Smith went against Memphis police department policy and didn’t wear his body camera. Although Smith was at the scene, he’s not one of the officers charged with second-degree murder in Nichols’ death.