MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis police lieutenant was killed in an off-duty crash early Thursday morning by an accused drunk driver.
The crash happened at around 12:30 a.m. at the corner of Austin Peay Highway and Yale Road. Two cars were involved. One included MPD Lt. Myron Fair.
Fair has been on the job for 25 years. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This is a tough time for the Memphis Police Department,” said MPD Director Mike Rallings.
Police said Fair leaves behind a wife and two children. His wife, Joyce, is a deputy sheriff with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. She has been with SCSO for almost 30 years.
One of her colleagues said fellow officers are now rallying around her.
“She is very, very hurt by this news,” said SCSO Lt. Anthony Buckner. “She’s trying to navigate through some very difficult waters right now. We’re going to make sure she never forgets the love that this agency has for her.”
Fair was headed home after finishing his work shift when he was hit by a suspected drunk driver just after midnight.
His family said he was a kindhearted man, family-driven and enjoyed working as a police officer.
Fair joined the force in 1994. Records show he worked as a Shelby County deputy jailer before joining MPD.
In 2004, Fair was shot in the line of duty while serving a warrant but returned to protect and serve another 15 years before the deadly crash.
MPD Sgt. Therman Richardson was there when it happened.
"That’s just one of the traumatic things we went through together as partners and despite his misfortune then, he still persevered,” Richardson said.
Courageous, helpful, a mentor – that’s how friends and colleagues remember Fair.
"The first thing you think about is that great big smile that he has,” Richardson said. “Helping individuals. Helping people. Mentoring kids.”
The 25-year MPD veteran left a lasting impression on his colleagues.
“The integrity,” Richardson said. “The morality that he brings to the table is second to none.”
Fair’s cousin said it was shocking to hear of his death.
“He was full of spirit,” Bradford Fair said. “He had a personality next to none. He was also a giving person.”
Bradford Fair said his cousin mentioned retirement the last time they talked, which was about two months ago.
"Still if he retired, still have a full life ahead of him with his kids and his wife,” Bradford Fair said.
The suspected drunk driver, identified as 50-year-old Marquell Griffin, was taken to the hospital for evaluation before being arrested and charged with DUI, reckless driving, aggravated vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash involving death and possession of a controlled substance.
It’s Griffin’s fourth DUI in about 20 years.
A police report states Griffin hit Fair’s car from behind at the intersection of Austin Peay and Yale in Raleigh. It slammed so fast that Fair’s car flew to the side of the road.
Officers say they found Griffin lying face down in front of the entrance of a nearby convenience store, bleeding from his mouth and had trouble standing and walking.
“So much of it is concerning,” said Shelby County D.A. Amy Weirich. “The record of the individual is being looked at right now.”
Court records show Griffin has been in and out of jail for years in Shelby County with two DUI convictions in 2014, one in 1997 and a slew of other offenses ranging from theft to aggravated assault.
Weirich says Griffin's license was revoked, but that didn't stop him from picking up keys to drive.
“That doesn't mean that those individuals are no longer driving,” Weirich said. “There's nothing we can do about that.” In Tennessee the fourth DUI, the one Griffin is charged with now, is upgraded to a felony.
Witnesses said Griffin was driving at a high rate of speed.
Griffin had three previous DUI’s, now a fourth after the crash.
Tennessee State Representative Mark White is a sponsor of a bill to strengthen Tennessee’s DUI laws to keep people who drive impaired off the streets.
“In Tennessee the current law is that we can seize a person’s vehicle on a DUI arrested upon conviction,” White said. “Well that’s the problem conviction may take two or three years.”
White wants that changed.
"Change the law where we can seize a person’s vehicle on an arrest, not on a conviction,” White said.
White said legislators have been trying for three years to get the changes but bureaucracy in the legal system and a person’s rights keep getting in the way
Griffin remains behind bars and is set to face a judge Friday morning.