Former Memphis deputy weighs in on deadly traffic stops

Following the latest officer-involved shooting in Memphis, WSMV 4 checked in with a former deputy in Memphis who was on the job for 25 years.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:52 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Following the latest officer-involved shooting in Memphis, WSMV 4 checked in with a former deputy in Memphis who was on the job for 25 years.

He weighed in on what consequences he thinks the officers should face and advice for anyone interacting with police during traffic stops.

No one likes to see blue flashing lights pull up behind them.

“When I was growing up, we were taught to just be respectful of law enforcement,” Collins said.

Compliance is key according to retired Shelby County Sheriff Deputy Mike Collins.

“Do what law enforcement tells you to do,” Collins said. “You will have your day in court if they are wrong.”

Collins’ advice follows the recent death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Monday, Nichols’ family and attorneys reviewed the body camera footage they said shows Memphis Police officers allegedly beating, tasing and pepper-spraying Nichols.

“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” one of the family’s attorneys said Monday.

Police claim Nichols ran from officers following a traffic stop. Collins said this incident should have never escalated.

“If you are that sensitive as it relates to the person getting away from you, and you have to use excessive force, maybe you are in the wrong profession,” Collins said.

Body camera footage was released last week of another deadly traffic stop in Mount Juliet. A Mount Juliet Police officer shot and killed a man who attempted to drive away after police pulled him over. Collins said that he thinks the Memphis officers were in the wrong and believes they should face criminal charges. He said there are things all drivers can do to help make traffic stops go more smoothly like keeping their registration, insurance and license readily available.

“Operate on the directions of the officer,” Collins said. “If those items are in a glovebox, let the officer tell you to go to the glove box.”

AAA also recommends drivers always keep their hands visible. For the safety of drivers, Collins said the most important thing is to pull into a well-lit area with cameras if possible. “A parking lot where other people might be a witness to what may transpire,” Collins said.

AAA provided the following tips:

What to do if You Get Pulled Over

  • Communicate to the officer that you see them and that you are working to pull over. Slow your vehicle down and put on your turn signal.
  • Slowly pull over in a safe location away from traffic
  • Put your vehicle in park and take your foot off the brake.
  • Turn your radio off
  • Remain in the vehicle, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Roll your window down all the way.
  • Keep your safety belt fastened.
  • At night: turn on your interior light.
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel
  • All passengers should remain quiet and keep their hands visible

Additional Safety Tips

  • Follow the officer’s instructions.
  • Answer all questions truthfully.
  • Be honest, courteous, and polite.
  • Reach for your license and other documents slowly, and only after the officer asks you to provide them. Be sure to let the officer know where in your vehicle you will be reaching to retrieve your license and documents.