MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two former Memphis police officers charged with the death of Tyre Nichols turned in documents that show they’ve used force before.
Every time an officer uses force, grapples with a citizen, or uses a Taser or pepper spray, the officer must fill out a “Response to Resistance” form. It details information like what kind of force was used, the officer’s reasoning and the people involved.
In 2021, WREG Investigators requested four years worth of forms to help the community better understand how their police department uses force and on whom.
MPD wanted to charge more than $7,000, so we compromised and agreed to look at six months of records. It took 14 months to let us see 349 forms from June to mid-December. MPD withheld records for incidents still under investigation.
Two of the forms were filled out by now-former officers Justin Smith and Emmitt Martin.
In August 2019, Smith stated he was dispatched to a shots fired call on Keltner Circle. The caller “heard the female screaming followed by several shots from what sounded to be coming from a high-power weapon.” Smith said he saw the possible suspect leaving, so he “pointed his weapon while giving loud commands for the suspect to get on the ground, and the suspect was non-compliant.” He didn’t know if he was armed, so he “physically took the suspect to the ground.”
The police reported noted a “number of shell casings,” but no one was injured.
In December 2019, Martin filled out a response to resistance form when he noticed an officer “having trouble with his prisoner.” He tried to help, and the “prisoner became irate, combative towards officers and refused verbal commands to calm him down.”
Martin stated after they were able to get his fingerprint, “the prisoner jerked his left arm which was handcuffed,” and “officers used necessary force to take the prisoner to the ground and gain control.”
The incident was captured on body camera, and the “prisoner had a small abrasion on his right eye.”
The reports do not give the citizen’s account.
WREG hasn’t seen either incident in the former officers’ personnel files. We are still waiting to see their disciplinary files.