Sixth Memphis police officer fired after death of Tyre Nichols
A sixth Memphis police officer has been fired in connection with the violent arrest and death of Tyre Nichols last month, the department announced Friday.
Memphis police said that former officer Preston Hemphill was fired after a "thorough review" found that he violated "multiple department policies," including "personal conduct" and "truthfulness." He also violated regulations regarding the use of a Taser, "issued equipment," and "inventory and processing recovered property."
Earlier this week, Hemphill was one of two more officers who were placed on administrative leave in connection with the Nichols' case. The other officer has not been identified. Hemphill had been with the department since March 2018, police said.
Bodycam and surveillance video showed the 29-year-old Nichols being violently assaulted during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. He died three days later from his injuries, on Jan. 10.
In a statement Monday, the department said Hemphill was under investigation for his participation in the "initial traffic stop" of Nichols "and the use of a Taser."
Lee Gerald, an attorney representing Hemphill, told CBS News on Monday that his client "was the third officer at the initial [traffic] stop of Mr. Nichols" and "was never present at the second scene," where video footage showed police beating Nichols at a nearby intersection. The first of four tapes documenting the arrest was taken from Hemphill's body camera footage, according to Gerald.
Hemphill is one of now six officers who have been fired in connection with the Nichols' arrest. The other five have been charged with second-degree murder. They have been identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith.
Police initially said that Nichols was stopped for reckless driving, and alleged that, as officers approached him to make an arrest, a "confrontation" occurred and he ran away. A second "confrontation" also occurred at some point before Nichols was ultimately arrested, police said.
However, four videos released last week, which including footage from police body cameras and street surveillance cameras, showed officers first removing Nichols from his vehicle after pulling him over, an initial struggle when Nichols breaks loose and runs away from the officers, and then disturbing images of Nichols being restrained and beaten by five officers at an intersection.
The videos showed Nichols being kicked and punched in the head while being restrained, pepper sprayed, and struck multiple times with a baton.
Speaking at Nichols' funeral Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris said that "this violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe, because one must ask, was it not in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today? Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe?"
— Emily Mae Czachor contributed to this report.
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