One of five former Memphis, Tennessee, police officers accused of fatally shooting 29-year-old Tire Nichols during a traffic stop this month in 2016 has been charged with participating in a prison assault that left an inmate unconscious. according to a federal civil rights complaint. .
The complaint, filed in April 2016 in US District Court in Tennessee, said the officer, Demetrius Haley, was one of three corrections officers who allegedly assaulted Cordarlrius Sledge while he was behind bars in County Shelby, according to the suit.
The suit, which Sledge filed without a lawyer, was dismissed in 2018 after a judge ruled that he did not properly serve a summons on one of the defendants.
Judge Thomas Anderson did not address Sledge’s allegations in a March 2, 2018, order.
According to the complaint, Sledge said that on May 16, 2015, officers searched his cell block at the Shelby County Department of Corrections, which houses inmates with misdemeanor and felony prison terms of up to 12 years.
The officers accused him of flushing “contraband” after they saw smoke in the area where he was, according to the suit.
Sledge accused Haley and another officer of punching him in the face, according to the suit. A third officer picked Sledge up and slammed him face first into the sink and onto the floor, the suit says.
“I blacked out after that,” Sledge said in the suit, adding that he woke up in the prison’s medical unit.
Sledge said he wanted the officers held “for their actions,” the suit says.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Sledge declined to comment.
Haley did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Attempts to reach the other two officers were unsuccessful. A lawyer representing Haley and one of the other officers did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday; neither was a spokesperson for the Memphis mayor’s office.
The Shelby County Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
In a court filing from June 2017, Haley and a second officer admitted to searching Sledge after he allegedly flushed contraband, but denied hitting him. In a separate filing later that year, they argued that the suit should be dismissed because Sledge did not properly follow the prison’s grievance process system.
The judge dismissed Sledge’s complaint after he failed to provide a correct address for a defendant who could not be located.
In the case of Nichols, who died three days after a Jan. 7 traffic stop, Haley and four other officers were fired after an administrative review accused them of violating multiple policies, including the use of excessive force, during the stop.
Preliminary results from an autopsy released Tuesday by lawyers for Nichols’ family show he suffered “extensive bleeding from a severe blow” before his death. The Shelby County medical examiner’s office has not released an official cause of death. Nichols’ family hired a forensic pathologist to review his case.
After reviewing body camera video of the traffic stop, the family’s lawyers compared the beating to the one Rodney King suffered in Los Angeles in 1991.