Former Memphis Cop Charged in Tyre Nichols’ Death Had Previously Beat Inmate Unconscious, Lawsuit Claimed

Memphis Police Department

In court documents obtained by Inside Edition Digital, Demetrius Haley, who previously worked for the Shelby County Division of Corrections as a corrections officer, was named in a 2016 lawsuit for allegedly beating an inmate to unconsciousness.

One of the former Memphis cops charged in the death of Tyre Nichols had previously beaten an inmate unconscious when he was a prison guard, according to a lawsuit.

In court documents obtained by Inside Edition Digital, Demetrius Haley, who previously worked for the Shelby County Division of Corrections as a corrections officer before becoming a Memphis cop, was named in a 2016 civil rights lawsuit for allegedly beating an inmate to unconsciousness.

The lawsuit alleged that Haley accused inmate Cordarius Sledge of flushing contraband down a toilet, and then punched the inmate in the face during a search for a cellphone while another officer slammed the inmate into a sink, causing him to lose consciousness. Sledge said in the lawsuit that he woke up in a medical unit.

Haley had denied that he assaulted Sledge in the court documents.

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2018 before there were any findings on the merits of the allegations.

Haley was hired by Memphis Police Department in 2020.

Following the release of the Nichols video on Friday, Sledge spoke out about the alleged incident.

“That could have been me,” he told the New York Post. “I could be dead.”

Sledge also spoke to NBC News and recalled the incident.

“When they came in to do one of their little random pop-in search, they called me and two other guys to the shower area to be strip-searched. They requested for me to be searched first.”

Sledge said he ran past the officers in his underwear to get rid of a cellphone.

“That’s when they started punching on me,” he told NBC News. “They picked me up and slammed my head into the sink, and I blacked out.”

Sledge admitted to the Post that he “had some contraband on me and I was trying to flush it down the toilet but they didn’t follow protocol.”

“Haley was the most vicious,” he added.

Sledge told the New York Post he got an apology from the prison warden but nothing from Haley.

“He got a promotion, from corrections officer to police officer,” Sledge said. “I didn’t believe my damn eyes.”

Following the death of Nichols, Haley and the four other officers – Tadarrius Bean, 24; Emmitt Martin III, 30; Desmond Mills Jr., 32; and Justin Smith, 28 – were fired by the Memphis Police Department on Jan. 20. They were arrested and charged last week with second-degree murder in the death of Nichols, among other charges.

In a statement the Memphis Police Department said the actions of these officers were "egregious" in nature.

“The Memphis Police Department has concluded its administrative investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols. After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five (5) MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.

“Earlier today, each officer charged was terminated from the Memphis Police Department. The Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city. The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day.”

The five officers are scheduled to appear for a bond arraignment in front of Shelby County criminal court Judge James Jones on Feb. 17, according to court documents.

The attorneys for Martin and Mills said they intend to plead not guilty to the charges.

In the wake of the release of the video which shows the police attacking Nichols, protests have been seen in major American cities in a call for police reform and justice for Nichols as well as those who have been killed by police.

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