Three paramedics who responded to the fatal beating of Tire Nichols were fired Monday following an internal investigation, the Memphis Fire Department said Monday.
Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker were found to have violated multiple department policies and protocols in their response to Nichols’s patient on Jan. 7, the fire department said in a statement.
“His actions or inactions on the scene that night did not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department and do not reflect the excellent service that the men and women of the Memphis Fire Department provide daily in our community,” he said.
The fire department was dispatched to the Nichols traffic stop site at 8:31 pm after police called about a “person with pepper spray”, the fire department noted. Long, Sandridge and Whitaker were directed to a second location and arrived to find Nichols leaning against a police cruiser at 8:41 pm, 10 minutes after the initial call.
Long and Sandridge responded to Nichols, while Whitaker and a driver remained in the vehicle, the fire department said.
“Our investigation concluded that the two paramedics responded based on the initial nature of the call (person with pepper spray) and the information they received at the scene and failed to conduct a proper assessment of Mr. Nichols’s patient,” the fire department said. .
An ambulance was called after the initial interaction with Nichols, the department said, and an emergency unit was dispatched at 8:46 pm. The department said the unit arrived at the scene at 8:55 pm, began care and took Nichols to a hospital. at 9:08 pm – about 27 minutes after Long, Sandridge and Whitaker arrived at the second location.
Voicemails left at the phone numbers listed for Long and Whitaker were not immediately returned Monday night. Sandridge did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Video of the traffic stop showed officers using force against Nichols several times, including pepper spray. Officers also appeared to punch Nichols, hit him with a truncheon and apparently kicked him in the face while he was being held, videos released on Friday showed.
Nichols was taken in critical condition to the hospital, where he died three days later. The Shelby County Coroner’s Office has not released the official cause of death.
Preliminary findings in an autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist for the Nichols family show that he was severely beaten before he died, lawyers for the family said.
Police initially said Nichols was pulled over for a reckless driving stop, but Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said her office found no evidence to substantiate the allegation. The officers ordered Nichols down, giving him conflicting commands, before he fled.
Officers pursued Nichols, using a stun gun as he fled, according to the videos. He was repeatedly sprayed with pepper spray before being beaten about 80 meters from his mother’s house.
Five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired on Jan. 20 after an administrative investigation found they had violated the department’s policy on the use of force. Two more officers – Preston Hemphill and an unnamed seventh officer – were “relieved from duty”, police said on Monday.
Bean, Haley, Martin, Mills and Smith were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of official oppression and one count of aggravated assault, prosecutors announced last week. . Lawyers for Mills and Martin said their clients plan to plead not guilty. It was unclear whether the others retained legal representation.
CORRECTION (January 30, 2023, 8:08 pm ET): An earlier version of this article misrepresented the works of the three firefighters. They were paramedics, not paramedics.
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