Mysterious seventh Memphis cop suspended over Tire Nichols’ death

A seventh Memphis police officer has been disciplined in connection with the death of Tire Nichols, officials said Monday.

Video released on Friday showed a number of people failing to help Nichols, a 29-year-old black man whom five police officers are accused of beating to death.

These officers, who are all black, were fired and charged with second degree murder and other offences.

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) announced on Monday that Constable Preston Hemphill, who is white, was relieved of his duties shortly after Nichols was arrested on Jan. 7.

The department said another officer was also relieved, but that officer has not been named and his role in the incident has not been clarified.

“The MPD Internal Affairs Investigative Team has prioritized interviews with officers and witnesses related to the second scene, where the most egregious aspects of the incident occurred,” the Department of Defense said. police in a statement. Press release.

Hemphill “and the actions and inactions of the other officer have been and continue to be the subject of this investigation since its inception on January 8, 2023”.

The statement added that “there are numerous charges still pending which are imminent.”

The ministry has been contacted for comment.

Also on Monday, the Memphis Fire Department announced that two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant had been fired following an internal investigation.

Demonstrators protest the death of Tire Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, January 28, 2023. A seventh Memphis police officer, who remains unnamed, has been disciplined in connection with Nichols’ death, officials said Monday.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The investigation determined that Robert Long, JaMicheal Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker “violated numerous” department policies and protocols, Fire Chief Gina Sweat said in a statement.

“Their actions or inactions at the scene that night do not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department and do not reflect the exceptional service the men and women of the Memphis Fire Department provide daily in our community. “

The department had received a call at 8:31 p.m. from police responding to a report of a person who had been pepper sprayed, the statement said. Long and Sandridge arrived at 8:41 p.m. as Nichols was handcuffed to the ground and slumped against a police cruiser.

Based on the nature of the call and information given to them by police at the scene, they “did not conduct an adequate assessment of Mr. Nichols’ patient,” the statement said. Whitaker and the driver remained in the fire truck.

After an initial interaction with Nichols, Long and Sandridge called an ambulance, and it arrived at 8:55 p.m., the statement said. An emergency unit treated Nichols and transported him to hospital at 9:08 p.m.

Video footage released Friday showed Memphis officers savagely beating Nichols. Officers used a stun gun, baton and their fists to beat Nichols during the Jan. 7 nighttime arrest. He died in hospital three days later.

Five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – were fired and charged with Nichols’ murder. They also face charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

These officers chatted and had fun for several minutes as Nichols remained on the ground, but the presence of other officers at the scene led to calls for more officers to be fired and charged. Protests have taken place in Memphis and elsewhere since the video was released.

Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies have been relieved of their duties without pay while their conduct is investigated.

Lawyers for the Nichols family questioned why the department hadn’t disclosed Hemphill’s discipline sooner and why he hadn’t been fired or charged.

On body camera footage of the initial stoppage, he is heard saying he knocked Nichols unconscious and stating, “I hope they stomp on his ass.”

“Why has his identity and the role he played in Tyre’s death just come to light? We have asked from the beginning that the Memphis Police Department be transparent with the family and community. This news seems to indicate that ‘They didn’t get up on occasion,’ attorneys Ben Crump and Anthony Romanucci said in a statement.

“It certainly raises the question of why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded from public view and, to this day, sufficient discipline and accountability. The Memphis Police Department owes us all the answers,” the statement read.

Lawyers for the Nichols family have been contacted for further comment.

Hemphill and the five fired officers were all part of the so-called Scorpion Unit, which targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas. Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, the Memphis police chief, said the unit has been disbanded.


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