The officer who pulled Tyre Nichols from his car before police fatally beat him never explained why he was being stopped, newly released documents show, and Memphis residents suggest that was common, reports the Associated Press. The Memphis Police Department blasted Demetrius Haley and four other officers as “blatantly unprofessional” and asked that they be stripped of the ability to work as police for their role in the Jan. 7 beating, according to documents released by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. They also include revelations that Haley took photographs of Nichols as he lay propped against a police car, then sent the photos to other officers and a female acquaintance. What led to it all remains a mystery. Haley and four other officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder. The new documents offer the most detailed account to date of those officers’ actions.
Haley's statement about sharing the photo will likely never be seen by a jury, AP reports. So-called “Garrity statements” — or disclosures made by police officers during internal investigations under the threat of termination if they stay silent — have been viewed by courts as compelled and therefore cannot be used in criminal court. When a police officer is accused of misconduct, internal police investigators often take statements from the accused officers or witnesses. Officers have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and can’t be forced to fess up to potential misconduct just to have those statements later used against them in a criminal case. “Police officers do not shed their Constitutional rights when they pin on a badge,” said Phil Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University who tracks charges and convictions of police officers. If an officer is required to answer questions as part of an internal affairs investigation or risk losing their job, courts have viewed those statements as protected or inadmissible in criminal proceedings because the officers were forced to talk.