Days after the city made video of the killing available to the public, a Memphis police officer has been suspended for his role in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, and five other officers have been fired and charged with the Black man’s murder.
Until an administrative hearing, the suspended officer, named as Preston Hemphill, was relieved of duty with pay, according to a Memphis Police Department spokesperson. The spokesperson also noted that an investigation into the event was ongoing. Regarding Hemphill’s precise involvement in the case, he chose not to comment.
No criminal charges have been announced against Hemphill, who has worked for the department since 2018.
The five dismissed officers – all of them Black – have been charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in the death of Nichols, a 29-year-old who was beaten by police after a traffic stop. Hemphill is white.
On Friday, the department released footage from body-worn cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole showing officers kicking, punching and striking Nichols with a baton in his mother’s neighborhood after the Jan. 7 traffic stop. He was hospitalized and died of his injuries three days later.
After the release of the videos, protesters over the weekend gathered and called for policing reforms in Memphis and other cities throughout the nation, from New York City to Sacramento, California, where Nichols once lived.
The peaceful demonstrations have been a stark contrast to the sense of anger, frustration and hopelessness that was on display during civil unrest after bystander video of the 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis shocked the nation.
The NAACP Memphis Branch on Sunday called for all officers and first responders involved in the violent incident to be held accountable.
At a press conference, NCAAP President Van Turner stated, “We want them to be fired and we want them to pay for their conduct.
The department on Saturday abolished Scorpion, the specialized police team, which included several of the policemen implicated in the incident.
Since the event, demonstrators in Memphis have requested that the department name every officer who was there when the beating occurred and make their employment records available, according to the Commercial Appeal.