Officer in downtown beating video repeatedly ordered to remedial driving

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After cell phone video captured a Memphis police officer beating a man on a downtown street Nov. 29 while another officer and two security guards watched, new details are emerging about the two officers.

It's not entirely clear which of the officers did the punching, but internal MPD documents show that one of them -- Eric Thomas -- has been involved in four different crashes during his five years with the department.

May 2014: Thomas rear-ended a pregnant driver while trying to pull her over in North Memphis. He was cited by police.

June 2014: Thomas drove through a red light at a North Memphis intersection, hitting a MATA van and a Shelby County Schools vehicle. Everyone involved in the crash was sent to the hospital.

Thomas told his supervisors he was responding to a call for backup at the time, but they note that his emergency equipment wasn't activated. 'Thomas said as a result of the crash, he learned that he should always stop and look before crossing intersections,' his file reads.

He was issued a citation, given a 10-day suspension without pay and was ordered to take two days of enhanced remedial driver training.

December 2015: Thomas struck a light pole while patrolling downtown. He was suspended without pay for two days and ordered to take remedial driving.

March 2018: Thomas struck a concrete post with the front of his squad car while patrolling in a parking garage. He was suspended without pay for one day and ordered to take remedial driving.

The other officer in the cell phone video is Michael Tippett, who's been with MPD for 10 years.

He received a written reprimand in 2009 for allowing a suspect to slip out of his handcuffs and escape from the back of a squad car.

He was suspended for two days without pay in 2017 after he failed to search a woman he arrested and it turned out she had a knife in her waistband.

Neither Tippett nor Thomas have prior excessive force complaints recorded in their MPD files.

Last month, the City of Memphis denied WREG's request to see the officers' body camera footage from November 29.

MPD told WREG Thursday that its internal investigation into both officers is still ongoing.

The suspect in the video, Yasin Bashir, still has criminal charges pending against him for aggressive panhandling and assault.

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