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Police supervisor in death of Tire Nichols retired on benefits the day before termination hearing: reports

The police chief who responded to the scene of Tire Nichols’ arrest retired the day before his termination hearing, according to media reports.

Lieutenant DeWayne Smith, who spent 25 years with the Memphis Police Department, faced disciplinary charges for dereliction of duty, unauthorized public statements and compliance with regulations when he retired on March 1, Memphis’ Action News 5 reported. His disciplinary hearing was scheduled for March 2.

During the Jan. 7 arrest that ultimately led to Nichols’ death, Smith failed to get the 29-year-old medical attention or remove his handcuffs, despite hearing him say, “I can’t breathe.” said NBC News.

Nichols was brutally beaten by several Memphis police officers during a traffic stop in early January and died of his injuries three days later. Despite noticing Nichols’ injuries, Smith received no reports from the other officers of their use of force.

Smith also told Nichols’ family that he had been driving under the influence, though there was no evidence to support such a conclusion, and that he did not wear his body cam during the arrest, in violation of department policy, NBC News reported.

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“That is extremely disturbing [the Memphis Police Department] accepted the retirement of this senior officer! civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, said in a tweet.

“Memphis police and officials must do everything they can to hold Lieutenant Smith accountable and not let his cowardice in resigning evade the consequences of his actions!” he added.

Seven officers were fired over Nichols’ death, including five charged with manslaughter. Three members of the Memphis Fire Department were also fired for failing to provide Nichols with medical attention.

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