6th Memphis Police Officer Removed From Duty Following Tyre Nichols’ Death

APTOPIX Memphis Police Force Investigation Protest

Following the tragic and controversial death of George Floyd in 2020, now police officers are once again on the edge after some of them are believed to be involved in the death of another Black man, Tyre Nichols.

The murder has increased public awareness of police brutality in the United States, particularly against minorities. The mystery surrounding Nichols’ death has not been solved, even after weeks have passed.

Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat said that two emergency medical technicians and a fire department lieutenant have already been terminated after their response to Nichols’ January 7th encounter together with members of a now-disbanded unit of the police department.

According to the police, Nichols was apprehended for suspicion of reckless driving. The police body camera as well as a surveillance video showed that a physical altercation broke out when the authorities took him out of his car and he tried to run away. The officers caught up with him and started hitting and kicking him multiple times.

Nichols was cuffed and the officers kept on hitting him and eventually left him lying on the ground. It can be heard in the video that Nichols was calling for his mother as he was being kicked and pepper-sprayed. A gurney arrived and took him to the hospital around 20 minutes after the struggle.

Sadly, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that Nichol succumbed to his injuries three days later.

The fire department stated that following Nichol’s death, EMT-Basic Robert Long, and EMT-Advanced JaMichael Sandridge have been fired. The two EMTs were not able to thoroughly conduct a patient assessment when they responded to the scene.

Memphis Police Force Investigation Protest

On January 20th, five police officers who are all Black were removed from duty. The five officers charged are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin, and Desmond Mills Jr. All of them are expected to be arraigned on February 17th. All were also indicted on second-degree murder plus other charges.

The office of the Shelby County district attorney, a total of seven charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping in possession of a deadly weapon, official misconduct, and official oppression, have been filed against the five dismissed officers.

And according to the Memphis police department, a sixth and a seventh officer were also relieved of duty along with the other five. Two of these officers are still subject to an internal investigation.

The department named one of the last two people involved in Nichols’ death. He is a White officer named Preston Hemphill. They said that he has been on administrative leave since the investigation started.

A body camera and pole-camera surveillance footage have been released in connection to the incident. One is of the initial traffic stop and the other shows how the officers beat Nichols at the second location. The video of the incident was difficult to watch.

It is a video during the traffic stop showing Hemphill firing a Taser at Nichols saying, “One of them prongs hit the bastard.” Hemphill then says to another officer: “I hope they stomp his ass.” However, that body-cam footage does not show Hemphill at the second location.

According to the county’s district attorney, Nichols was beaten and suffered serious injuries. But since Hemphill was not seen at the second site, he has not been charged. In his defense, his attorney Lee Gerald said, “He was never present at the second scene.” The attorney also said that Hemphill has ever since been cooperating with the investigation.

The seventh officer on the other hand has not been named as of yet.

Despite the good news that these people involved were already apprehended, the victims’ lawyers still have many doubts. In fact, the attorneys for Nichols’ family have questioned why when it comes to the five Black police officers, the department was quick to fire and charge them with murder. And for Hemphill’s involvement in the incident, they have been quiet about it.

In a statement, attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said: “The news today from Memphis officials that Officer Preston Hemphill was reportedly relieved of duty weeks ago, but not yet terminated or charged, is extremely disappointing. Why is his identity and the role he played in Tyre’s death just now coming to light?” The statement adds: “It certainly begs the question why the White officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and protected from the public eye.”

Talking to CNN, Romanucci said: “This is such a gross collapse of the system that we’re supposed to trust, that it really is unspeakable. (Nichols’ family is) trying to absorb all of this.”

And weeks following Nichols’ death, more questions were asked…

Memphis Councilman Frank Colvett demanded answers on why the other police officers present during Nichols’ beating had not been reprimanded or suspended. There is also no assurance as of yet if Hemphill or the other officers will face criminal charges after what happened.

Shelby County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Erica Williams said: “We are looking at all of the officers and first responders at the scene. They could face charges, or they could not, but we are looking at everyone.”

Major Karen Rudolph, a spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department stated that the five dismissed officers involved were all former members of the disbanded SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit. And according to a source, Hemphill was also a member of the SCORPION unit.

Grieving families and friends created a makeshift memorial at the intersection of the residential street where Nichols was beaten. And when the videos were released protests were held in cities all throughout the United States including in New York, Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles.

The Nichols family remembered him as a loving son and dad who is a fan of skateboarding, photography, and simply watching the sunset. They said that they will never forget his warm embraces and laughter at the memories they shared.

His family promised to “keep saying his name until justice is served.”

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