Long before he was connected to the death of Tyre Nichols, former Memphis Police Department Officer Demetrius Haley was linked to the assault of an incarcerated person at Shelby County jail. In fact, the incident was so brutal that it led 34 other incarcerated people to send a joint letter to the corrections director.
“We are truly asking that this matter gets looked into before someone gets hurt really bad or lose their life because of some unprofessional officers,” a copy of the letter obtained by the Associated Press reads.
“[How are we supposed to feel] safe and secure when the staff members at the Shelby County Correctional Center are assaulting and threatening us?”
The latest allegations levied against Haley stem from a recent 2016 lawsuit filed by the victim, Cordarlrius Sledge. Sledge accused Haley and another officer of punching him while a third officer slammed his head against the ground. Ultimately, his lawsuit was dismissed on procedural grounds. As a result, he continued to work for the Department of Corrections until 2020 when he was hired at the Memphis Police Department.
Three years into his time with the city’s police force, a Memphis officer approached Tyre Nichols’ car at the intersection of E. Raines and Ross Road. As a plainclothes officer reportedly approached Nichols shouting obscenities, Demetrius Haley approached the vehicle.
“You exited your unmarked vehicle stopped in an opposing traffic lane and you forced the driver out of his vehicle while using loud profanity and wearing a black sweatshirt hoodie over your head,” a statement of charges sent to Haley reads.
“You never told the driver the purpose of the vehicle stop or that he was under arrest.”
In the moments that followed, four other officers would join Haley in assaulting Nichols for more than three minutes. For approximately twenty minutes, the 29-year-old man was left without medical attention. Three days later, he was pronounced dead. Following public outcry and a released video of the traffic stop, Haley and four others were charged with second-degree murder.