A high-ranking Memphis police officer on the scene after the violent arrest of Tire Nichols has withdrawn before a hearing that would have determined whether or not he would have been fired for his response, according to court documents.
Nichols was arrested Jan. 7 in the Hickory Hill neighborhood of Memphis on reckless driving charges. The police repeatedly punched, electrocuted and kicked him during the traffic stop and required hospitalization. He died three days later.
According to an internal investigation into the fatal arrest, Memphis police Lt. Dewayne Smith went to the scene after Nichols was beaten and taken into custody.
The 29-year-old father was already handcuffed and slumped against a police cruiser when Smith arrived, but the officer did not ask about the use of force implemented nor why Nichols’ face was bloody, documents obtained by CNN show.
Smith had been with the department since 1998 and would have been the most senior officer present. He is accused of failing to “take command” in a supervisory role at the scene of Nichols’ arrest.
Smith was notified in documents dated January 27 that he would face disciplinary charges in connection with the violent traffic stop. However, he filed for retirement on February 28, just two days before he was scheduled to appear in a disciplinary hearing.
“It has been an honor to serve the city I call home for the past 25 years,” Smith wrote in a notarized letter to the Department of Human Resources. “Over these years, I have been blessed with some challenging assignments with some great people.”
During the disciplinary hearing held for Smith, despite his absence, officials determined that he should have been fired for his actions on the day of the Nichols beating.
“Immediately upon arrival, officers were told they pepper-sprayed and tested the subject, but he never asked why he had blood on his face,” the documents outlining his disciplinary charges read.
“At approximately 8:44 p.m. and upon arrival, the victim said ‘I can’t breathe’ before collapsing while still handcuffed. He did not order any officers to remove the handcuffs for the first emergency medical personnel to provide initial care.”