State Watch

Seventh Memphis officer suspended in Tyre Nichols death investigation

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) has announced a seventh officer has been suspended as the investigation into Tyre Nichols’s death continues. 

The officer, who has not been identified, was relieved of duty on Jan. 8, the day after Nichols was reportedly stopped for reckless driving and severely beaten. Graphic video footage of the incident was released on Friday. 

The footage showed an initial stop of Nichols, where officers immediately attempted to pull him from his car and proceeded to tase him before he escaped and ran away. When five other Memphis officers, who are all Black, caught up to him, they can be seen deploying pepper spray and a stun gun against Nichols and repeatedly punching and kicking him as he was yelling for his mother.

News of the seventh officer’s suspension comes after the department identified Preston Hemphill, a white officer hired in 2018, for his involvement in the initial stop of Nichols. 

“Officer Hemphill’s actions and involvement has been under investigation as he participated in the initial traffic stop and the use of a TASER,” the department said in a statement posted to Twitter. 

News of both Hemphill and the seventh officer’s involvement was delayed as MPD investigated the five officers directly involved in beating Nichols, leaving him with serious injuries that eventually lead to his death on Jan. 10. 

“The MPD’s team of Internal Affairs investigators prioritized interviewing officers and witnesses related to the second scene first, where the most egregious aspects of the incident occurred,” the statement said. 

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

The five officers initially named in the incident — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired on Jan. 20 and have since been indicted on second-degree murder charges.

In addition to the seven officers, the Memphis Fire Department announced on Monday that it had terminated two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant for violating numerous policies and protocols in their response to the scene.  

MPD said it expects “the next phase of personnel action” to come in the following days. 

While no other charges have been filed, the Shelby County district attorney’s office said it is possible more charges could be forthcoming.

“The current charges do not preclude us from adding additional charges as more information is presented. We are looking at all individuals involved in the events leading up to, during, and after the beating of Tyre Nichols,” the district attorney’s office said. “This includes the officer present at the initial encounter who has not— so far—been charged, Memphis Fire Department personnel, and persons who participated in preparing documentation of the incident afterward.”

Tags Emergency Medical Technicians Memphis Memphis Fire Department Memphis Police Department police brutality Preston Hemphill Shelby County District Attorney Tyre Nichols violation of protocol

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