Memphis police said Sixth Officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty following the death of Tire Nichols
A sixth Memphis police officer has been placed on administrative leave in the wake violent arrest that led to Nichols Photos‘ the death. The officer, Preston Hemphill, has been relieved of duty amid an ongoing internal investigation at the Memphis Police Department, a CBS News spokesperson confirmed Monday.
Memphis police did not release details of Hemphill’s involvement in Nichols’ arrest. CBS News confirmed that Hemphill was relieved of duty at the start of the police department’s investigation, at the same time as the five accused.
Lee Gerald, the attorney representing Hemphill, told CBS News that his client “was the third officer in the beginning [traffic] Mr. Nichols stopped” and “was never present in the second scene,” as video footage showed police striking Nichols at a nearby intersection. The first of four tapes documenting the arrest were taken from Hemphill’s body camera footage, according to Gerald.
His attorney said Hemphill “is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”
Hemphill joined the Memphis police force in 2018, according to a department spokesperson, who said in a statement that the department will share a more detailed update “as soon as additional information becomes available.”
News of Hemphill’s vacation comes after Memphis Disturbing video released Nichols’ arrest. Five officers involved — Tadarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmett Martin III and Justin Smith — were fired earlier this month and are facing The charges including second-degree murderand aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official repression.
Attorneys for the Nichols family issued a statement Monday asking to question the way the department is handling the investigation into Hemphill’s role — and pointing out that only one of the six officers is White:
“The news today from Memphis officials that Officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty weeks ago, but has not yet been terminated or charged, is extremely disappointing. Why has his identity and the role he played in Tire’s death come out now? The Memphis Police Department is transparent with the family and the community – this news seems to indicate that they haven’t risen to the occasion. It certainly begs the question as to why the white officer involved in this brutal attack is shielded from the public eye and, thus far, adequate discipline and accountability. The Memphis Police Department has all the answers.”
Nichols, a 29-year-old father who worked for FedEx, died Jan. 10, three days after he was hospitalized with a serious arrest injury, as a result of a traffic stop on the night of Jan. 7. The cause of death has not yet been released, attorneys representing the Nichols family said last week that Independent autopsy They found that Nicholls had suffered from “severe bleeding caused by severe beatings”.
In the videos, which included both body camera and surveillance footage totaling more than 60 minutes, at least one officer is seen pushing Nichols to the ground and striking him with a taser, while another officer is heard saying at a different time, “I hope they stomped his ass.”
The five officers charged in Nichols’ death belong to the SCORPION unit Police said in a statement that the Memphis Police Department has been “permanently suspended” as of Saturday.
Additionally, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday night that two sheriff’s deputies have been relieved of their duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
“Having first seen the videotape tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols,” said Sheriff Floyd Bonner. statment. “I have opened an internal investigation into the conduct of these MPs to determine what happened and whether any policies were violated,” he added.
The accident has prompted demonstrations In cities across the country, with protesters demanding police accountability. Some members of Congress are, too Renewal calls for reform.
“We call on our colleagues in the House and Senate to begin negotiations now and work with us to confront the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects so many of our communities,” Stephen Horsford, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement. Meeting with President Biden to “press for negotiations on much-needed national reforms to our justice system — specifically, our law enforcement procedures and behavior.”
Mr. Biden was one of many leaders who have condemned the actions of the officers involved in the brutal arrest. President I spoke with Nichols’ mother and her husband “Like many, I was outraged and deeply hurt by seeing the horrific video of the beating that led to Nichols’ death,” Friday said in a statement.
In an interview after the footage was released, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis called the officers’ behavior “outrageous, reckless, and inhuman.”
CBS News’ Nicole Killion contributed to this report.