In court testimony, a former Memphis EMT who responded to Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating said that police were “impeding patient care” by refusing to remove his handcuffs.
On Friday, Robert Long, a former Memphis Fire Department EMT, detailed the January 7 incident before the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Board, NBC News reports.
According to Long, he and another EMT, JaMichael Sandridge, received a call about an assault on a police officer. However, when they got to the scene, the officer said he had been pepper sprayed by his partner but did not need medical attention. Instead, the officer instructed Long and Sandridge to go to another scene where the police had Nichols in custody.
Long testified when he arrived at the scene, he observed that Nichols had a bump on the head, a busted lip, and a dried bloody nose. He asked Nichols what happened to which he responded, “I want to stand up and be uncuffed.”
The former EMT said he asked the police what happened. They said, “He ran from us.”
Long said he attempted to take Nichols’ vitals several times, but it was challenging. He explained to the board that Nichols’ handcuffs made it difficult to check his vitals.
He also stated that he requested an ambulance. Nichols, 29, was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital. He died three days later.
Preliminary findings in an autopsy performed for Nichols’ family by a forensic pathologist showed that he was severely beaten before his death.
Memphis police initially claimed they stopped Nichols for reckless driving, but Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said her department has found no evidence to support the claim. During Nichols’ detainment, police officers appeared to pepper spray him, punch him, strike him with a baton, and kick him in the face, according to a video released in January.
All five officers involved were fired on January 20 for violating department policy regarding using force. They were all charged with second-degree murder, official misconduct, aggravated kidnapping, official oppression, and aggravated assault.
Preston Hemphill and an unnamed seventh officer were also “relieved of duty” for their involvement.
Long, Sandridge, and Lt. Michelle Whitaker were found to have violated several department policies and protocols in their response to Nichols. All three of them were fired, according to NBC News.