Sixth US police officer fired over beating death of Tyre Nichols

Mourners arrive at the funeral service for Tyre Nichols [Jeff Roberson/AP Photo]

Five other officers had already been fired and charged with murder over the death of the 29-year-old Black man.

The Memphis Police Department on Friday said it had fired a sixth officer involved in the arrest of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old African American whose fatal beating shocked the nation.

Preston Hemphill, who had been in the southern US city’s police force since 2018, “violated multiple departmental policies,” including on “personal conduct,” “truthfulness” and regulations on Taser gun use, the department said in a statement.

Five other officers had already been fired and charged with murder over Nichols’ death.

“While we disagree with this termination, Preston Hemphill will continue to cooperate with all authorities in the investigation into the death of Mr Nichols,” Lee Gerald, a lawyer representing Hemphill, said by telephone, according to Reuters news agency.

People carry a banner and signs during a protest on the day of the release of a video showing the Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols, the young Black man who died while hospitalized three days after he was pulled over while driving by Memphis police officers, at a protest in New York, U.S., January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People carry banners and signs on the day a video is released showing Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols, at a protest in New York, US [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Gerald declined to comment on whether his client would also face criminal charges, but said of his cooperation with the investigation: “That speaks for itself.”

Hemphill, a white man, had been suspended since the beginning of the department’s investigation, but that was not made public until Monday.

Nichols was arrested by members of a special police unit called Scorpion on January 7 for what police said was a traffic violation.

Footage of his vicious beating, recorded on body cameras and security cameras, triggered national outrage when it was made public last week.

Police video showed Hemphill at the initial traffic stop when officers attempted to detain Nichols, but he was not among the officers who chased Nichols down and beat him.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy has said other police officers, fire department personnel and others who prepared documentation of the incident may also face criminal charges as more information becomes available.

A funeral for Nichols was held on Wednesday, with Vice President Kamala Harris in attendance.

Legislators and civil rights advocates in the United States are calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to do more to advance police reform in light of Nichols’ death.

Harris, in a speech at the funeral, said Washington would settle for nothing less than ambitious federal legislation to end police violence.



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