MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A sixth Memphis Police officer has been placed on leave in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old driver who died after a traffic stop.
Officer Preston Hemphill was placed on leave, a spokesperson for MPD confirmed Monday to The Commercial Appeal, part of the USA TODAY Network. The spokesperson confirmed Hemphill, who was hired by MPD in 2018, has been on leave since the beginning of the investigation.
In its initial narrative, MPD said the officers involved had been relieved of duty, but did not say how many officers that was. The police department again declined to give a total number of officers, when confirming Hemphill’s leave Monday.
Memphis police declined to specify the reasons for Hemphill being placed on leave. Hemphill has not been charged with a crime.
The department did not respond The Commercial Appeal’s question as to whether Hemphill was part of the SCORPION Unit, a specialized unit that focused on concentrating officers in areas with high crime. The five former officers who have been charged in Nichols’ death were on assignment with the unit on Jan. 7. The unit is now permanently disbanded and under investigation.
Those five former officers were fired Jan. 20 as a result of MPD’s internal investigation into the events that preceded Nichols’ death. They were indicted about a week later and now face second-degree murder charges, along with assault and kidnapping charges.
The FBI is also investigating the circumstances of Nichols’ death.
Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after he was beaten and then hospitalized.
Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.
Story Credit: usatoday.com