Fired Memphis, La Vergne officers recommended to lose badges

A decertified officer is prohibited from working in law enforcement in Tennessee.
A decertified officer is prohibited from working in law enforcement in the state of Tennessee.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 12:45 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:15 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Former Tennessee police officers connected to controversy stretching from Memphis to La Vergne are set to lose their badges after being recommended for decertification.

Henry “Ty” McGowan, who was fired in connection to the La Vergne police sex scandal, and Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, and Justin Smith, all former Memphis police officers fired in connection to the death of Tyre Nichols, had decertification hearings Thursday in Nashville with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission.

None of the officers showed up at the meeting and were recommended for decertification by default because they were not able to argue against the information presented by their former departments. If the full POST Commission agrees with the recommendation during a meeting on Friday, the officers will never be able to work in law enforcement in Tennessee again.

Haley, Martin, and Smith are three of five former officers charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.

Before the hearing, attorney Blake Ballin, who is representing former officer Desmond Mills, said Mills already surrendered his certification and does not want to be a police officer again.

“We’re kind of on the same page about this,” Ballin told our Memphis affiliate, WMC, in an interview. “He has said before he has very limited time, resources, and energy like all of us, so he’s going to focus those on the criminal case.”

Now-retired Lt. Dewayne Smith is also up for decertification. The Memphis Police Department originally attempted to rescind that decertification, but they have since backtracked that request. The commission plans to hear that case at an upcoming meeting.