Memphis police officer taken off duty pending investigation into arrest of Tyre Nichols after five charged with murder

Memphis police officer taken off duty pending investigation into arrest of Tyre Nichols after five charged with murder

A Memphis police officer has been suspended pending an investigation into his role in the arrest of Tire Nichols, days after five other officers were fired and charged for allegedly beating him to death.

Key points: Memphis officer Preston Hemphill relieved of duty with pay Five officers face a number of charges, including second-degree murder. Protesters are calling for policing reforms in Memphis and other cities

Preston Hemphill has been relieved of duty with pay, pending an administrative hearing, a spokesman for the Memphis Police Department said.

It comes after the department released video footage of the beating of Mr Nichols, a black man, to the public.

The spokesperson said an investigation into the incident was ongoing, but did not want to comment on Mr. Hemphill’s specific involvement in the case.

Preston Hemphill has been relieved of police duties pending a hearing into his involvement in the fatal arrest of Tire Nichols. (Reuters: Memphis Police Department)

No criminal charges have been announced against Mr Hemphill, who has worked for the department since 2018.

The five fired officers – all black – were charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in the death of Mr Nichols, a 29-year-old who was beaten by police following a traffic stop.

Mr. Hemphill is white.

From top are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith charged with second-degree murder in the arrest and death of Tire Nichols. (AP: Shelby County Sheriff’s Office)

On Friday, the department released footage from body-worn cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole showing officers arresting Mr. Nichols was kicked, punched and hit with a bat in his mother’s neighborhood after the Jan. 7 traffic stop.

He was admitted to hospital and died of his injuries three days later.

Over the weekend, protesters gathered to call for policing reforms in Memphis and other cities across the country, from New York City to Sacramento, California, where Mr. Nichols once lived.

Space to play or break, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. Watch Duration: 2 minutes 44 seconds2m 44s City of Memphis releases footage of Tire Nichols’ arrest

The peaceful protests were a stark contrast to the sense of anger, frustration and hopelessness seen during civil unrest after bystander video of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis shocked the US.

The Memphis branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Sunday called for all officers and first responders involved in the violent incident to be held accountable.

“We want them terminated and we want them to suffer the consequences of their actions,” said Van Turner, president of the NAACP.

A memorial service was held for Mr Nichols on January 17. (AP: Photo/Adrian Sainz)

Some of the officers involved in the beatings were part of Scorpion, a specialized police unit that the department disbanded on Saturday.

Since the incident, protesters in Memphis have demanded that the department identify all officers at the scene of the abuse and release their personnel files, the Commercial Appeal reported.


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