MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The family of the Memphis man shot by police while some had their body cameras off is disappointed to hear those officers’ punishments.
Three Memphis police officers were reprimanded for the September 2018 shooting of Martavious Banks. The now 26-year-old is undergoing physical therapy.
His attorney, Arthur Horne, says he was shot in the back, arm and groin area. “He’s got some challenges facing him for the rest of his life,” he said.
Jamarcus Jeames, the officer accused of pulling the trigger, resigned. Three others received unpaid suspensions for a long list of things they did wrong that night.
“It didn’t sit well with us, nor did it sit well with Martavious Banks and his family,” Horne said.
What they were happy with was hearing that Jeames resigned before his administrative hearing wrapped up. He was accused of turning off his body and in-car cameras during part of the chase and shooting, using his patrol car to block Banks’ car, driving recklessly, not turning on his blue lights and telling dispatch about the pursuit.
“We were happy about that, and we were hopeful that the other two officers would’ve been terminated or resigned as well,” Horne said.
Officer Michael Williams II received a 20-day unpaid suspension and written reprimand for not telling dispatch of a pursuit or getting approval for the pursuit, deactivating his body camera and being unable to account for two rounds of ammunition, even though police say he didn’t fire his weapon during the incident.
Officer Christopher Nowell received a 20-day unpaid suspension for not notifying dispatch of his traffic stop, pursuing without notifying the dispatcher or getting approval for the pursuit and deactivating his body camera.
Nowell also admitted he told Banks he was pulling him over for a different violation in order to avoid an argument.
“It’s upsetting and it’s sad, especially for the citizens of this city. I mean, we’re spending millions on body cams and people aren’t using them. The officers aren’t using them,” Horne said.
A lieutenant also received a five-day unpaid suspension for not turning on his body camera when he showed up to the scene. He arrived after the shooting took place.
“When officers are allowed to not follow policy, not follow protocol and they get a slap on the wrist, it’s egregious,” Horne said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations turned over their findings to the Shelby County District Attorney’s office last month. The DA’s Office says the report is under review, but Horne says he isn’t hopeful the officers will be prosecuted.
We asked the Memphis Police Department for an interview, but we haven’t heard back.
Mayor Jim Strickland released the following statement:
“We have body-worn cameras not only to protect our citizens but to protect our officers. The officers involved in this incident will be disciplined and will receive extra training to ensure this lack of judgment does not happen again.”