Monster Memphis Cop Texted Trophy Photos Of Tyre Nichols's Battered Body

Monster Memphis Cop Texted Trophy Photos Of Tyre Nichols's Battered Body

Tyre Nichols

Five Memphis police officers viciously beat Tyre Nichols and propped him up against a police car like he was a bag of used beer cans. He was bleeding, barely conscious, but still handcuffed, presumably to protect the cops who’d seen too many slasher films where the seemingly vanquished killer suddenly roars back to life.

The Memphis Police Department confirmed this week that former officer Demetrius Haley, whose name should become an epithet, admitted taking a photo of Nichols slumped against the police car. At this point, Nichols was probably already dying from his injuries, but Haley considered this as good a time as any for some non-consensual modeling.


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Haley was the cop who shouted obscenities while yanking Nichols out of the car. He apparently wasn’t so pissed he couldn’t stop to commemorate the occasion. He’d also pepper sprayed Nichols, which caused him to run off in obvious pain. Haley wasn’t present for most of the beatdown, and when he arrived, Nichols was already lying on the ground moaning in pain. So, obviously, this peace officer ran up and kicked Nichols in the head or upper body. I’m not watching that video again to confirm.

The Memphis Police Department confirms that Haley used his personal cellphone to take the photo. Officers are prohibited from using personal cellphones while performing such duties as driving a police vehicle, handling calls for service, or conducting traffic stops. Presumably, officers can't use a personal cellphone when committing homicides, either.

Haley sent the photo to at least five people, including two fellow officers, a civilian employee of the department, and a woman he knew. A sixth person might’ve also received the photo. At this rate, you should check your own phone for photos from Haley, but for God’s sake delete without opening.

I don’t believe All Cops Are Bastards, but I certainly don’t think All Cops Are Brilliant. Maybe Haley was dumb enough to send around repulsive photos that implicate him in a violent crime. That's a more pleasant option than the more likely one: Haley thought he was untouchable as a cop. Like one of the droogs from Clockwork Orange, he realized that the badge and uniform let him continue reveling in the old ultra violence without any accountability. No one would stop him. No one would care. They'd all appreciate the sick humor.

The "good news," I suppose, is that this is now part of a report sent to the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. Chief Cerelyn Davis has requested that the five officers, who were quickly fired, be officially decertified, which would make them ineligible to ever work again as police officers in the state. They'e also charged with second-degree murder, but it's best not to take chances. It's very hard to fire a cop, and even when you succeed, they often come roaring back like that slasher film killer. They return with back pay and maybe a sequel deal.

It's Black History Month, and I'm reminded that Haley's grotesque actions aren't that dissimilar from how a giddy audience would behave at a lynching. They pointed and laughed, and yes, they even took souvenir photos of the Black people dying in front of them. Haley, like the other officers, is Black, but psychopathy knows no color. He'd stared into the abyss at some point and found himself in Memphis on May 22, 1917, when Ell Persons was lynched after he was accused of raping and killing a teenage white girl. A large crowd gathered for the event that was reported to have the "atmosphere of a carnival."

Persons' body was decapitated and dismembered, and his remains were scattered and displayed across Beale Street—the centre of the African American community in Memphis—where his head was thrown from a car at a group of African Americans. According to Charles W. Cansler, a spokesman for the local black community, his head was thrown into a room which contained black doctors. His remains were taken as souvenirs, and photographs of his head were sold on postcards for months after the event. The Commercial Appeal's headline the day after the lynching read: "Thousands cheered when negro burned: Ell Persons pays death penalty for killing girl", and their editorial on 25 May described the lynching as "orderly. There was no drunkenness, no shooting and no yelling."

Rather than honoring the ancestors, Haley simply took his turn inflicting misery.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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