Photo: Scott Olson / Staff via Getty Images
  /  03.19.2023

New outrage in the Tyre Nichols case exploded this weekend when news broke that a former Memphis Police Department lieutenant was allowed to retire ahead of a March 2 board hearing regarding his possible termination.

DeWayne Smith submitted his notice on March 1 after 34 years of service. He retired with his pension and benefits, according to documents obtained by news station WREG. Smith was the on-scene supervisor on Jan. 7, the evening Tyre Nichols was brutally beaten to death by five Memphis police officers. The men were suspended, then terminated, and subsequently charged with multiple offenses, including second-degree murder.

Findings from an internal investigation also allege Smith failed to properly document the scene and told a subordinate to remove evidence before an investigative bureau arrived on the scene. In a Friday (March 17) tweet, Benjamin Crump, the family attorney, wrote, “It is extremely disturbing that MPD accepted the retirement of this senior officer!” In a separate statement to the news outlet, Crump said that RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, Nichols’ parents, believe Smith was responsible for downplaying the 29-year-old’s injuries.

RowVaughn previously shared that she was misled about her son’s injuries. She discovered that Nichols sustained lethal bodily harm when she was allowed to visit him in the hospital. “When I got to the hospital, my son was beaten up; he had bruises all over his body, his head was the size almost of a watermelon, his neck was busted because of the swelling, and his neck was broken. My son’s whole body was just black and blue,” she told ABC News in January.

Crump noted that Smith failed to get the details about the five police officers’ interaction with the aspiring photographer. “Smith observed Tyre’s dire medical condition and did not render or direct immediate medical attention,” said Crump elsewhere in his statement. “Further, police reports indicate Smith failed to fully assess the scene or examine the facts behind the officers’ narrative, which was false.”

He continued, “His cowardice in resigning and not facing his own disciplinary board to defend himself is not an end-around on accountability or reckoning.” Crump admonished MPD for accepting the resignation and allowing Smith to “sidestep” the consequences.



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