The retired Memphis cop who should be punished: Tire Nichols’ family

A Memphis police warden who withdrew on welfare shortly before he was due to be fired for his role in Tyre Nichols’ caning should be held accountable, Nichols’ stepfather said Saturday.

“We will not allow this lieutenant to retire thinking that he can escape the consequences of his actions. The community will not allow this,” Rodney Wells said during a rally at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters.

The retired lieutenant was identified as DeWayne Smith in records obtained by the media on Friday.

“This shield does not authorize you to go out and commit murder. Hopefully through all of this we get justice for Tire and justice for all other families going through this hardship,” Well said during his performance in Harlem.

Documents revealed that Smith, who was at the scene when 29-year-old Nichols was beaten, heard him say “I can’t breathe” but did not seek medical attention or remove his handcuffs.

Tire Santa Claus
RowVaughn Wells says the police description of her son Tire Nichols, who was drunk or on drugs, made no sense.
Ben Crump Law

Smith also told Nichols’ family that he was driving under the influence – although there was no information to support a charge, the documents say. Investigators said Smith ruled Nichols was drugged or intoxicated without evidence, and video caught him arriving at the scene telling Nichols, “You took something.”

Smith’s retirement came shortly before his dismissal hearing.

RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells
Tire Nichols’ mother tearfully shares with her husband how her son died while speaking to the National Action Network.
JC Reis

Tire Nichols' parents, RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, speak to Al Sharpton on the National Action Network.
Nichols’ parents were joined on stage by Rev. Al Sharpton.
JC Reis

Seven other Memphis officers were fired after Nichols died following the Jan. 7 traffic delay, and five of them were charged with second-degree murder.

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said officers banged on her door on January 7 to let her know that Nichols had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

“I was a bit confused because my son doesn’t drink like that. He occasionally has a beer every blue moon, but not in the way they described it,” she said.

Tire Nichols leans against a car after a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers January 7 in Memphis.
Tire Nichols leans against a car after a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers January 7 in Memphis.

She said they also asked if he was on medication or using drugs because he had “superhuman strength.”

“I stand and I go, that doesn’t sound like my son. What are you talking about?” she said.

Wells said Nichols was “just a good boy.”

“He just wanted to live his life and he took control of his life because he has a 5-year-old son,” she said. “He was less than 800 feet from where they caught him and they murdered him and beat him to death.”

Wells said she did not watch videos showing the brutal beating on Nichols, who was screaming for his mother during the attack. He died three days later.

“I didn’t watch the video because I didn’t need to see the video. I’ve already seen what they did to my son. I didn’t have to see how they did it,” he said through tears. The retired Memphis cop who should be punished: Tire Nichols’ family


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