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Officer accused of beating Tire Nichols to death allegedly assaulted prison inmate, 2016 lawsuit claims

One of five former Memphis, Tennessee, police officers charged with fatally beating Tire Nichols, 29, during a traffic stop this month, was charged in 2016 with participating in a jail assault that left an inmate unconscious, according to a federal civil rights complaint. .

The lawsuit, filed in April 2016 in the U.S. District Court in Tennessee, said the officer, Demetrius Haley, was one of three correctional officers who allegedly assaulted Cordarlrius Sledge while behind county bars. Shelby, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which Sledge filed without an attorney, was dismissed in 2018 after a judge found he had improperly served a subpoena on one of the defendants.

Judge Thomas Anderson did not respond to Sledge’s allegations in the March 2, 2018 order.

According to the complaint, Sledge said that on May 16, 2015, officers searched his cellblock at the Shelby County Correctional Division, which houses inmates serving misdemeanor and felony prison sentences of up to 12 years.

Officers accused him of chasing “contraband” after seeing smoke in the area where he was, according to the lawsuit.

Sledge accused Haley and another officer of punching him in the face, according to the lawsuit. A third officer lifted Sledge and threw him face down into the sink and onto the floor, according to the suit.

Demetrius Haley, former Memphis police officer.Memphis Police Department via AP

“After that I passed out,” Sledge said in the suit, adding that he woke up in the prison medical unit.

Sledge said he wanted the officers “detained for their actions,” the lawsuit says.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Sledge declined to comment.

Haley did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Efforts to reach the other two officers were unsuccessful. A lawyer who represented Haley and one of the other officers did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday; neither did a spokeswoman for the Memphis mayor’s office.

The Shelby County Division of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

In a June 2017 court filing, Haley and a second officer admitted to searching Sledge after he allegedly disposed of contraband, but denied beating him. In a separate filing later that year, they argued that the suit should have been dismissed because Sledge had failed to properly follow the prison grievance system.

The judge dismissed Sledge’s complaint after failing to provide a correct address for an untraceable defendant.

In the case of Nichols, who died three days after a traffic stop on January 7, Haley and four other officers were fired after an administrative review found them to have violated several policies, including the use of excessive force, when stopping.

Preliminary autopsy results released Tuesday by attorneys for Nichols’ family show he suffered “profuse bleeding from a severe beating” before his death. The Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause of death. Nichols’ family hired a medical examiner to review his case.

After reviewing body camera video of the traffic stop, family attorneys compared the beating to the one Rodney King suffered in Los Angeles in 1991.

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