Report: Starkville police chief struck sibling in the face

Frank Nichols
By: 
Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

Details have emerged regarding a physical altercation with a family member over the weekend that led to the temporary suspension of Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols.

According to the incident report filed by the Starkville Police Department, which was provided to the Starkville Daily News following a public records request, Nichols is accused of striking his brother, Craig Nichols, in the face and injuring his left eye, which paramedics said was “swollen shut with dried blood in and around his nose.”

The offense listed on the incident report is simple assault, a misdemeanor. It is unclear at this time if Nichols has been, or will be, formally charged.

Nichols, who has served as police chief since February 2014, was suspended for two weeks without pay on Monday during a special call meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen and he has been placed on a six-month probationary period to monitor his job performance.

City leaders appointed Captain Troy Outlaw as interim chief while Nichols serves his suspension.

Starkville City Clerk Lesa Hardin responded to a public records request for Nichols’ personnel file, but said it is exempt from production, pursuant to Mississippi Code 21-1-100(1).

THE INCIDENT

The incident report states on Saturday evening, Starkville Police officers responded at about 7:15 p.m. to a call for an assault victim at Chestnut Drive and Sycamore Street.

The victim, identified as Craig Nichols, was being treated in an ambulance. His injuries were described in the incident report as minor. Police said Craig Nichols was sitting with ice wrapped in a paper towel covering his left eye and said the altercation originated at McKee Park, which was the setting for the annual Travis Outlaw Day celebration on Saturday.

Craig Nichols then told investigators he expressed to Frank Nichols that he was ready to go home, to which the off-duty police chief responded that he was “going to hang with him.”

The report states Craig Nichols told his brother he couldn’t stay out all night, to which Frank Nichols responded that his son would take him home. Craig Nichols responded, joking that he was not going to ride with Frank Nichols’ son because “he drives too fast for him.”

Further words were exchanged between the two men and Craig Nichols went and stood by his truck, according to the victim’s statement to police. He then claims Frank Nichols came up from behind him and struck him in the face, saying he could not see, but he got up and managed to walk away from the scene.

Craig Nichols then traveled on foot to a residence on the corner of Sycamore and Chestnut and asked for assistance. Officers said he appeared to be intoxicated and there was an obvious aroma of alcohol.

When the report was filed by SPD officers, Craig Nichols said he was unsure if he wanted to press charges and that he wanted to go home.

He was then advised by police that he needed to be checked by paramedics, but reiterated that he wanted to be taken home and would seek medical treatment if needed.

Police transported Craig Nichols to Chandler Park Apartments, where he exited the patrol car and went inside in undisclosed apartment.

FRANK NICHOLS’ PERSPECTIVE

Frank Nichols was notified by police of the call from his brother and then met with investigators, who had also spoken to witnesses.

According to the incident report, Frank Nichols said he, along with his brother and other friends, were in the park hanging around and talking. He said his brother loaded up his truck as if he were leaving, but then went over and began “messing with the generator.”

Frank Nichols told his brother to leave the generator alone and that it did not belong to him.

Craig Nichols then stayed in the location a little while longer and told those around him he was about to leave, to which Frank Nichols responded, saying his brother did not need to be driving and that his son would take him home.

The same exchange relayed to police by Craig Nichols concerning his unwillingness to ride with Frank Nichols’ son was echoed by the police chief, who said he asked his brother what he meant by the statement.

Frank Nichols then said his brother became argumentative and started “picking at” his son.

As the argument intensified, Frank Nichols said his brother became more aggressive after he confronted him about messing with his son.

Frank Nichols told police that two friends at the location got between him and his brother to stop Craig Nichols from approaching him.

Words were then exchanged and Frank Nichols said his brother “started towards him aggressively again,” to which he responded by striking him in the face.

A witness also said Craig Nichols left the scene at some point during the evening, before returning again and picking at Frank Nichols’ son.

Police say verbal statements from Milton Smith, Oliver Sudduth and Frank Nichols’ son all coincided with the police chief’s version of the events that took place.

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