Two more Memphis police officers taken off duty pending investigation into arrest of Tyre Nichols after five charged with murder
Two more Memphis police officers have been suspended and three emergency personnel fired in connection with the death 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 Memphis Police Department spokesman said.
The spokesperson said another officer was also suspended, but did not name them or specify what role they played in the incident.
An investigation into the incident on January 7 was ongoing, the spokesperson said, but they did not want to comment on Mr. Hemphill’s specific involvement in the case.
Mr Hemphill was the third officer at a traffic stop that preceded Tire Nichols’ violent arrest, but was not at the scene where he was beaten, his lawyer Lee Gerald said.
Mr Hemphill switched on his body camera, in accordance with department policy, he added.
On body camera footage of the initial stop, Mr. Hemphill heard saying that he mr. Nichols was stunned, and declared: “I hope they bump his ass.”
Preston Hemphill has been relieved of police duties while the investigation into the fatal arrest of Tire Nichols is conducted. (Reuters: Memphis Police Department)
No criminal charges have been announced against Mr Hemphill. He is white and has been working for the department since 2018.
A total of seven officers have now been reprimanded, including five black officers who have been charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression over the death of 29-year-old Mr. Nichols.
On Friday, the department released footage from body cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole showing officers kicking, punching and hitting him with a baton in his mother’s neighborhood after a traffic stop.
He was taken to hospital and died of his injuries three days later.
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 Monday, lawyers for the Nichols family questioned why the police department did not arrest Mr. Hemphill’s disciplining earlier, and why he was not fired or charged.
“We have asked from the beginning for the Memphis Police Department to be transparent with the family and the community – this news seems to indicate that they have not risen to the occasion,” the lawyers said in a statement.
“It certainly raises the question of why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and shielded from the public eye, and to date, from adequate discipline and accountability.”
Karen Rudolph, spokeswoman for the Memphis police, said information about disciplinary actions taken against Mr. Hemphill was taken, was not immediately released because Hemphill was not fired.
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 Memphis Fire Department also fired two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and a driver in connection with their response to the incident.
Fire officials said in a statement that EMTs Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge failed to perform an “adequate patient assessment” of Mr Nichols.
Lt. Michelle Whitaker, who drove the fire truck to the scene, was also fired for violating department policy, officials said.
“Their actions or inactions at the scene did not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Gina Sweat.
Over the weekend, protesters gathered to call for policing reforms in Memphis and other cities, including New York and Sacramento, where Mr. Nichols once lived.
The peaceful protests were a stark contrast to the sense of anger, frustration and hopelessness on display during the civil unrest that followed the 2020 video killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
A memorial service was held for Mr Nichols on January 17. (AP: Photo/Adrian Sainz)
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.
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 newspaper reported.