The Memphis, Tennessee, police officer who fatally shot Jaylin McKenzie, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in December did not turn on his body camera during the encounter, a violation of policy that the department has not publicly acknowledged, according to internal files obtained by HuffPost.
The officer, Nahum Dorme, who has not been publicly identified previously, also violated policy by not telling a dispatcher or supervisor that he had been involved in a vehicle pursuit. A note in the files indicates that Dorme received a written reprimand for both violations.
“On December 16, 2022, you were involved in a foot pursuit and attempted to detain the suspect, who fired shots at you. You returned fire in self-defense, however; the incident was not caught on your BWC,” reads a comment in the files HuffPost obtained, referring to the officer’s body-worn camera. (Police have not released evidence that McKenzie fired first, as the officer claimed.)
“In your [Inspectional Services Bureau] statement, you advised your BWC was functioning properly, but you turned it off while loading up your squad car and forgot to turn it back on. Your BWC should be on and in-stand by mode while you are conducting official police duties. You failed to do that, and it did not capture a critical incident.”
The files do not use McKenzie’s name, but the date and details of the incident they describe align with McKenzie’s shooting.
The Memphis Police Department did not respond to questions about whether there is any dashcam video or bodycam footage from other officers who were on the scene. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, declined to confirm the officer’s identity or comment on whether any bodycam footage of the incident exists.
The department tweeted a statement about the incident hours after it happened, but has not released an official police report.
A TBI statement about the incident said Memphis police officers on patrol tried to make a traffic stop when they noticed a “suspicious vehicle,” and that the driver drove off, ending up in a grassy area. There, at least three individuals, including McKenzie, left the vehicle and fled on foot, according to the statement. The bureau says that “one officer and the subject exchanged gunfire, resulting in the death of the individual.”
No officers on the scene were injured.
Andrew Stroth, an attorney for McKenzie’s family, has questioned the police account, noting that neither the MPD nor the TBI have indicated that a gun was recovered at the scene or that bullet casings were found. Additionally, Stroth and the family say McKenzie’s autopsy did not show any gunshot residue on his body.
Black Lives Matter activists and McKenzie’s family have pushed the MPD to release bodycam footage of the shooting, and the department has never said whether such footage exists.
Ashley McKenzie-Smith, McKenzie’s mother, told HuffPost in June that the family had filed record requests for the body-camera footage and had been denied three times. McKenzie’s family said the police department had not provided them with any updates on the case.
The killing of McKenzie, who had lived in Atlanta and was visiting family in Memphis, occurred about three weeks before Memphis police fatally beat Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, at a traffic stop. Nichols’ death set off nationwide protests and put the MPD in the national spotlight.
Last week, the Department of Justice announced a sweeping probe of the MPD to assess allegations of discriminatory policing toward Black people in the city.
McKenzie-Smith and John Perry, McKenzie’s father, have organized and participated in protests to raise awareness about the deaths of Nichols and their son.
“It was never a fair fight and it is still not a fair fight,” Perry told HuffPost in February. “With the cops, it is not a fair fight.”