One of five Memphis police officers accused of killing Tyre Nichols allegedly beat up an inmate nearly eight years ago, according to a lawsuit filed by the victim.
Cordarlrius Sledge, 34, was serving a three-year sentence for aggravated assault when he was allegedly beaten in the Shelby County Division of Corrections by ex-Memphis police officer Demetrius Haley, 30, and another officer on May 16, 2015. Haley was a correction officer at the Shelby County Corrections Department at the time.
"I could be dead. As it is, my body still hurts from the beating. It's gonna hurt for life," Sledge told the New York Post.
Sledge filed the lawsuit in 2016, claiming two officers punched him in the face during a search for a prohibited cellphone. In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Western Tennessee, he said that a third guard slammed him face-first into a sink.
TYRE NICHOLS DEATH: LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUP 'INFURIATED' BY ALLEGED ASSAULT DURING TRAFFIC STOP
"I had some contraband on me, and I was trying to flush it down the toilet, but they didn't follow protocol. Haley was the most vicious," he said.
Sledge, now living in a Memphis halfway house, said he blacked out and woke up on a bed the next day with blood coming out of his ear after the officers had taken him to the prison's medical infirmary.
"There was so much blood on my pillow. It damaged my right ear for life," he said.
He noted that he received an apology from the prison warden but heard nothing from Haley.
Haley denied in court papers allegations he assaulted Sledge in prison, and the lawsuit was dismissed in 2018 before its merits were evaluated after Sledge failed to provide the court with the requested information. A judge determined he had not properly served one of the defendants with a summons. Sledge explained that he was in federal custody at the time and could not complete the necessary paperwork on his own.
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In August 2020, Haley joined the Memphis Police Department.
"He got a promotion, from corrections officer to police officer," Sledge said. "I didn't believe my damn eyes."
Nichols, 29, was stopped by police on Jan. 7 for alleged "reckless driving." Officers said a "confrontation occurred" during the traffic stop, leading to Nichols' attempt to flee. Officers eventually caught up with him by car, exited their vehicles and began to beat him, leaving him complaining about having shortness of breath. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition and died on Jan. 10. The Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office has not released Nichols' cause of death.
Haley and the four other Memphis police officers - Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith - were fired after an internal investigation found they had violated multiple department policies during the traffic stop, including policies on the use of excessive force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid.
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The five officers are being charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and other charges.
In the body camera footage, Nichols can be heard saying, "I didn't do anything," as officers pulled him out of his car during the traffic stop.
"Watch out, I'ma baton the f--- out you," one officer said during the incident.
Police Chief C.J. Davis said in a statement on Wednesday that other officers remain under investigation. The incident is also being reviewed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Justice Department.