MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis Fire EMT who was on the scene the night Tyre Nichols was found beaten by police testified Friday in front of the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board, but it left some asking why he and his partner didn’t do more to help Nichols.
At the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board hearing on Friday, former Memphis Fire EMT Robert Long gave his take on what he and Advanced EMT Jamichael Sandridge saw after finding Tyre Nichols sitting on the ground, propped up against a police car after being beaten by police on January 7.
The day of Tyre Nichols’ beating was Long’s first day back on duty after being on combat deployment for the US Army last year.
Long said the fire unit had been dispatched for an assault on an officer.
“Yes sir, this call came in 20:32 as an assault on a police officer when we arrived on the scene at East Raines and Ross Road,” he said.
After the EMTs got there, Long said an MPD officer told him he’d been pepper sprayed by his partner, but they had a person in custody who may need their help.
“Introduced ourselves as Sandridge and Long with Memphis Fire Department and asked the patient can you tell me what happened today? Patient (Tyre Nichols) stated I want to stand up and be uncuffed. I asked MPD what happened to the patient and he stated he ran from us,” Long said.
He recalled seeing Nichols’ injuries.
“I performed a visual assessment and noted the patient had a bump on the head, a busted lip, and a dry bloody nose on both nostrils,” Long said.
In perhaps the most damaging testimony to the officers, Long said they impeded the care of Nichols.
“MPD is leaning over the patient in his face saying loudly that the patient is not going anywhere and that they’re not going to uncuff him, impeding patient care,” he said.
However, he also testified that no one told him not to treat Nichols and said Nichols told him he’d been drinking.
“I asked the patient had he done any drugs or alcohol. The patient said he had only been drinking,” Long said.
Under cross-examination, Long was asked why the EMTs didn’t do more for Nichols.
Matt Gibbs, an attorney with the Tennessee Department of Health, stated that Nichols rolled or slumped at least 11 times during the encounter and asked Long if that drew concern.
“It’s drawing concern, but he’s already stated he drank alcohol earlier that day,” Long replied.
But when Long was asked if he smelled alcohol, he said he didn’t.
The board voted to keep Long’s summary suspension in effect and will receive a full hearing at a later date.