BOSTON (AP) The speed at which five Memphis police officers were dismissed in the wake of a traffic stop for an individual who later died at a local hospital was atypical but it could become more frequent according to researchers who study criminal justice and police questions.
Five Memphis Police Department officers were dismissed on Friday, just two weeks after their Jan. seven arrest for Tyre Nichols. He was 29. The officials said that the five were fired for excessive force use as well as for failing to intervene and for failing to provide aid.
The speed with which five Memphis police officers were fired following the traffic stop of a man who later died in a hospital is unusual but could become more common, according to those studying police and criminal justice issues. https://t.co/LfTU8a5pJ4
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 22, 2023
It’s not often for police departments to respond so swiftly according to David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. Sometimes, investigations can go on for as long as an entire year, according to Thomas.
“It rarely happens this fast,” Thomas said.
The five officersTadarrius Bean Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith – are Black as is Nichols. The decision to dismiss officers was based on a investigation conducted by Memphis Police Department. Memphis Police Department. Nichols passed away three days following his traffic stop.
The U.S. Justice Department has initiated a civil rights probe. It is investigating the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also is investigating the police force used to arrest.
A recent trend is the introduction of body cameras for police that can be swiftly scrutinized, as well as videos taken by passers-by Thomas, said Thomas, who worked for twenty years as an officer of the police within Michigan in Michigan and Florida.
“In the past it was the word of the officer. If the person who was killed was alive, you’d get their statement, if someone had passed away, you’d have the medical examination report. All of this would play in some way,” he said. “With the body camera, evidence is already there.”
Nichols was arrested when officers were stopped for speeding, police said. The incident erupted between officers and Nichols and he fled before being confronted and detained, police claimed. Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital.
The family members of Nichols have accused the officers that they beat Nichols in a way that caused him to suffer a heart attack. The authorities said Nichols had a medical emergency. The family members have called for the release of body camera footage, and also called police officers to be prosecuted.
Body cameras are only able to tell an entire story if they’re working throughout the entire event, Thomas said. There are some officers who overlook turning the cameras on. Others might deliberately shut them off.
“Law enforcement cannot operate with the impunity they enjoy,” He said. “Absolutely officers will be dismissed faster.”
Usually, prior to firing, authorities will determine whether an officer’s conduct is in violation of the general guidelines of the department which outline the rules and procedures that officers must follow according to Patrick Oliver, director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University in Ohio.
“The severity of the decision is determined by the seriousness of the offense,” said Oliver, who served for more than 28 years working serving in the law enforcement field, with 16 of which as a police chief and as the chief of Cleveland Police Department.
The decision to dismiss an officer is one of the most serious job decision, Oliver said, suggesting that department officials are that they are able to back the decision.
“There is a lot greater scrutiny of police today,” he said. “When I was a police officer there was a lesser chance that what the police officer did would be captured on camera.”
Oliver explained that often videos can prove that police have acted correctly. “I believe that’s most of the time,” he said.
Although it’s unusual, it’s not uncommon for cities to dismiss police officers before there are criminal charges filed however that’s not an end to the tale as stated by Stephen Rushin, a Loyola University Chicago law school professor who has researched police contracts.
Many cities give their officers the right to appeal any disciplinary decision, such as the being fired, Rushin said.
“In many organizations the decision to terminate an employee is followed by a lengthy appeals process which can take months to complete” the official said. “At the conclusion the appeals process it’s common for officers to be reinstated on appeal.”