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Memphis Police Fire 6th Officer In Tyre Nichols’ Case, Mayor Announces DOJ Investigation

Memphis, TN – Memphis police officials fired a sixth officer involved in the arrest of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols on Friday after an internal review and the mayor announced the police department would undergo and independent, external review by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) said in a statement on Feb. 3 that the officer who was captured on bodycam video Tasing Nichols had been terminated, WREG reported.

Now-former MPD Officer Preston Hemphill had been on paid administrative leave pending investigation since Nichols’ death on Jan. 10.

Memphis police said in a statement that Officer Hemphill “violated multiple department policies and was fired after an internal review, WREG reported.

Officer Hemphill was charged with administrative violations in connection with the Nichols’ incident that included personal conduct, truthfulness, compliance with TASER use policy, compliance with uniform and equipment policy, and inventory processing, according to the police department’s statement.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis fired five of the officers involved in the incident on Jan. 20, NBC News reported.

Now-former Memphis Police Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 26.

Each of the officers, all of whom are black, was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault-acting in concert, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and one count of official oppression, the Commercial Appeal reported.

The five officers each posted a $250,000 bond and all of them were released from the Shelby County Jail within 24 hours of being arrested, Daily Memphian reported.

MPD said that a seventh officer is now under investigation for his role in the Nichols’ arrest but officials have not yet released that person’s name, WREG reported.

The investigation into the arrest and beating of Nichols remains under investigation, according to Memphis police.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced on Feb. 3 that MPD would undergo an independent, external review by DOJ and national police organizations following the in-custody death of Nichols.

The incident began just before 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 after MPD officers observed Nichols weaving in and out of traffic and stopped his car at an intersection, according to one of four videos released by the police department on Jan. 27.

In Video No. 1, bodycam showed officers pulled up to the right of, in front of, and directly behind the suspect vehicle and boxed him in.

Some of the officers had their weapons drawn as other officers pulled Nichols from the driver’s seat of his vehicle.

The video showed the suspect immediately began resisting arrest and despite his comments of “alright, alright, alright” to the officers, he refused to follow commands to lay on his stomach after they took the struggling man to the ground.

Initially, Nichols appeared to be resisting without aggression and the officers used only their hands to try to take him into custody.

The officers appeared to use light hands on the suspect and none of them knelt on his back or attempted to put any weight on him at all, the video showed.

Nichols resisted, sat back up, and refused to lay on the ground as an officer – since identified as Officer Hemphill – yelled at him repeatedly to follow commands or he would Tase him.

The bodycam showed that even as Officer Hemphill held a Taser up against Nichols, the suspect continued to roll around and resist being taken into custody.

“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols complained in the video. “I’m just trying to go home.”

Two seconds later, Nichols was able to get to his feet and break free of the officers’ hold on him, bodycam showed.

He fled on foot and Officer Hemphill deployed his Taser, but the video showed Nichols pulled off his sweatshirt where the prongs had been embedded and kept running as if the less-lethal device had no effect on him.

Several officers chased after Nichols on foot and others followed in patrol vehicles, the video showed.

Two of the officers who had been pepper-sprayed during the altercation – including Officer Hemphill – quickly returned to the scene of the traffic stop and remained with the suspect vehicle until backup arrived after the fleeing suspect had been taken into custody blocks away.

Bodycam and pole camera footage showed officers at the second scene delivered a brutal beatdown to Nichols after the suspect tried at least once to reach for an officer’s holstered weapon.

Nichols was ultimately transported to the hospital in critical condition and died three days later from injuries sustained during his confrontation with police, the Commercial Appeal reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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