A sixth Memphis Police Department officer was fired on Friday for his role in the brutal beating and death of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died in January three days after a traffic stop.
The officer, Preston Hemphill, was placed on leave at the start of the department’s investigation. MPD announced his termination Friday, nearly a month after Nichols was beaten. Hemphill has not been charged with a crime.
Calls for Hemphill’s dismissal grew after Memphis released over an hour of body camera and surveillance footage of officers beating, kicking, pepper spraying and using a Taser on Nichols.
According to attorney Lee Gerald, Hemphill’s body camera was released showing officers’ initial encounter with Nichols, in which at least three officers approached his car at a traffic light, yelling expletives while forcing him out of the car and onto the ground.
The department said Hemphill violated policies including: personal conduct, truthfulness, compliance with Taser regulations, compliance with uniform regulations and a policy governing inventory and recovered property.
The investigation into Nichols’ death remains ongoing, the police said Friday, and “multiple” officers are under investigation.
Hemphill, who is white, was hired in March 2018.
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On Jan. 20, the department fired five other officers for their roles in Nichols’ beating death. A week later, those officers, who are all Black, were indicted on charges that include second-degree murder.
Earlier this week, three employees with the Memphis Fire Department were terminated from the department related to Nichols’ death.
Hemphill is the ninth City of Memphis employee fired in relation to Nichols’ death.
Gerald confirmed to The Commercial Appeal, part of the USA TODAY Network, that he was present at the initial stop of Nichols.
“I can confirm that I represent Memphis Police Officer Preston Hemphill, who was the third officer at the initial stop of Mr. Nichols. Video one is his body cam footage,” Gerald told The Commercial Appeal in an email statement at the time. “As per departmental regulations, Officer Hemphill activated his body cam. He was never present at the second scene. He is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”
Gerald did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.
In the footage from Hemphill’s body camera, officers hold Nichols down and are hit by pepper spray that was deployed by another officer. The camera shakes as Nichols runs and an officer, that Gerald identified as Hemphill, shoots at him with a taser.
After a brief chase, Hemphill stops running after Nichols, turns back and can be heard saying, “I hope they stomp his ass.”
Gerald did not respond to questions from The Commercial Appeal on Monday about whether he he anticipates Hemphill will be charged with a crime or whether Hemphill was part of the now deactivated SCORPION unit.
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Commercial Appeal reporter Lucas Finton contributed.
Laura Testino covers education and children’s issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino
Story Credit: usatoday.com