The career record of Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has come under scrutiny in the wake of Tyre Nichols death due to police brutality.
A report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates Davis, who became chief of police ion 2021, had originally been fired from the Atlanta Police Department after allegedly becoming embroiled in a botched sex crimes investigation “into the husband of an Atlanta police sergeant.”
Her career in law enforcement began as a patrol officer in 1986 until she advanced as commander of the city’s Special Operations Section, “which included SWAT, mounted patrol, motors, APD’s helicopter unit, vice and narcotics.”
The botched sex crimes operation allegedly occurred in 2008 while Davis had been serving as APD’s internal affairs commander. She was reportedly fired alongside another police employee. Per the AJC report:
Two detectives accused Davis of telling them not to investigate Crane’s husband, Terrill Marion “T.C.” Crane, after the department obtained sexual photos of him with underage girls. A federal grand jury later indicted T.C. Crane on charges of producing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to one count in January 2009.
The federal indictment was issued after Atlanta police took no action in the case, though an investigation by the city later pointed to Davis largely as the reason.
Then-Chief Richard Pennington first demoted Davis from major to lieutenant before firing her. She challenged her firing before the city’s Civil Service Board and was ultimately reinstated.
Davis later retired from the APD in 2016 before taking a job as police chief in Durham, North Carolina. She rose to Memphis Police Chief in April 2021 when Mayor Jim Strickland selected her as the department’s first head female.
Upon release of the Tyre Nichols footage, where five black police officers brutalized him during a traffic stop, Davis told CNN that she was “outraged.”
“I was outraged,” she said. “It was unconscionable … I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything of that nature in my entire career. It was that bad.”
“Mr. Nichols was able to get away from these officers and they found him again at another location,” she added. “At that point, there was an amount of aggression that is unexplainable.”
The five police officers were fired and indicted on second-degree murder charges.