Retired Memphis cop should be punished: Tire Nichols’ family

A Memphis police supervisor who retired with benefits just before being fired for his role in the death of Tire Nichols should be held accountable, Nichols’ stepfather said Saturday.

“So that this lieutenant can retire thinking that he can escape the consequences of his actions, we are not going to let that happen. The community is not going to let this happen,” Rodney Wells said at a rally at Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters.

The outgoing lieutenant was identified Friday in records obtained by media as DeWayne Smith.

“This shield does not allow you to go out and commit murder. Hopefully, through all of this, we will get justice for Tire and justice for all the other families going through this,” Well said during his appearance in Harlem.

Documents have revealed that Smith, who was at the scene when Nichols, 29, was beaten, heard him say “I can’t breathe” but failed to get him treatment or remove his handcuffs.

RowVaughn Wells says the police description of her son, Tire Nichols, being drunk or on drugs made no sense.
Ben Crump’s Law

Smith also told Nichols’ family that he was driving under the influence – although there was no information to support a charge, according to the documents. Investigators said Smith decided without evidence that Nichols was drugged or drunk, and video captured him arriving at the scene telling Nichols, “you took something.”

Smith’s retirement came just before his dismissal hearing.

RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells
Tire Nichols’ mother, joined by her husband, tearfully recounts how her son died while speaking to the National Action Network.
JC Rice

Tire Nichols' parents, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells with Al Sharpton, speak to the National Action Network.
Nichols’ parents were joined on stage by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
JC Rice

Seven other Memphis officers were fired after Nichols died following the Jan. 7 traffic stop and five of them were charged with second-degree murder.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, recounted how police knocked on her door on January 7 to tell her that Nichols had been arrested for driving under the influence.

“I was a bit confused because my son doesn’t drink like that. He drinks a beer once in a while every blue moon, but not as they described it,” she said.

Tire Nichols leans against a car after a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers January 7 in Memphis.
Tire Nichols leans against a car after a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers January 7 in Memphis.

She said they also asked her if he was taking medication or taking drugs because he had “superhuman strength”.

“I’m standing there and going it doesn’t look like my son. What are you talking about?” she said.

Wells said Nichols “was just a good boy”.

“He was just going to live his life and he managed to pull himself together because he had a 5-year-old son,” she said. “He was within 800 feet of where they grabbed him and they murdered him and beat him to death.”

Wells said she did not watch the videos showing the brutal beating of Nichols, who cried out for her mother during the attack. He died three days later.

“I didn’t watch the video because I didn’t need to see it. I’ve already seen what they did to my son. I didn’t need to see how they did,” said through tears.


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