Former Durham Police Chief CJ Davis could be ousted as Memphis top cop

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Thursday, January 11, 2024
Former Durham police chief could be ousted as Memphis top cop
On Tuesday, the Memphis city council voted 7 to 6 in favor of recommending Davis not remain in her position as police chief.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WTVD) -- CJ Davis, the former Durham police chief who left in 2019 to take over as the top cop in Memphis may soon be ousted from the job as part of the fallout over the death of Tyre Nichols.

On Tuesday, the Memphis city council voted 7 to 6 in favor of recommending Davis not remain in her position.

The full city council will vote on Davis' future as police chief on Jan. 23.

Davis was heavily criticized for her actions in the wake of Nichols' death last January at the hands of police officers.

In what was the first meeting between the newly-elected city council and Davis, some council members claimed that she failed to order Memphis police officers to follow city ordinances passed after Nichols' death, which were enacted to stop pretextual traffic stops.

Nichols was stopped by police the night of Jan. 7, 2023, when he was beaten for reasons that were not observable on the officers' body camera footage.

"I'm not a liar, I don't have to be a liar," Davis said at the city council meeting. "I went to work for this council after the ordinances were passed, I navigated the politics, I navigated the state law, the federal law, and the position of our officers receiving mixed messages."

Newly-elected Memphis Mayor Paul Young, who was not in office during the police encounter with Nichols last year, urged the city council to allow him to work with Davis and let her keep her post.

"I understand that there was a little tension between the administration and the prior city council," Young said at the council meeting Tuesday. "And what I want to say to you is that this is a new slate. You all have never worked with me as mayor before, and I want to have a collaborative relationship to agree collectively on those results."

Nichols, 29, died on Jan. 10, 2023, three days after his violent confrontation with police.

A subsequent federal indictment alleges that the five officers involved in the incident - Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, and Emmitt Martin III - deprived Nichols of numerous rights under color of law during the confrontation.

Mills pleaded guilty to federal civil rights and conspiracy offenses. The other four defendants pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. They still face a federal trial scheduled for May 6, according to the Department of Justice.

The Memphis Police Department fired the five officers, who were part of the department's since-disbanded SCORPION unit, following an investigation into Nichols' death.

Davis was hired as Durham's police chief in 2016.

ABC News' Stephanie Wash and Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.