Sixth Memphis police officer Preston Hemphill fired over Tyre Nichols killing

Nichols family had accused officials of ‘shielding’ sixth officer from consequences

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Saturday 04 February 2023 00:34 GMT
Memphis police officer calls Tyre Nichols beating 'fun' in body cam footage

The Memphis Police Department on Friday fired a sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, in connection with the violent arrest and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols last month.

The department said in a statement on Friday that Mr Hemphill, hired in 2018, “violated multiple department policies” surrounding personal conduct, truthfulness, the use of stun guns, as well as handling evidence.

The Independent has contacted the Memphis police union for comment.

Preston Hemphill was fired from the Memphis Police Department on Friday, 3 February, 2023, in connection with the investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died following a violent arrest during a traffic stop. (Memphis Police Department)

The Nichols family had previously accused officials of “shielding” Mr Hemphill, who is white, from consequences, while prosecuting five Black officers involved in the scandal.

Mr Hemphill had been on administrative leave since the beginning of the case while he faced an internal investigation.

The former officer was allegedly caught on police body camera video saying he hoped his fellow officers would “stomp his a**,” in reference to Nichols.

Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family, also said in a statement that Mr Hemphill was the one who first pulled Nichols out of his car during a traffic stop and hit him with a taser.

“It certainly begs the question why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and protected from the public eye, and to date, from sufficient discipline and accountability,” Mr Crump wrote in a statement at the time. “The Memphis Police Department owes us all answers.”

Lee Gerald, an attorney for Mr Hemphill, confirmed that his client was the third officer at Nichols’ first traffic stop but he was never present at the second scene that escalated to the beating.

“As per departmental regulations officer Hemphill activated his bodycam,” Mr Gerald previously said in a statement. “He was never present at the second scene. He is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”

According to a post on the MPD Facebook page, the former officer had completed at least 40 hours of mental illness training before he joined the force’s Crisis Intervention Team.

A seventh unidentified officer is on administrative leave.

The news follows the termination of former MPD officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith, who have been charged with second-degree murder.

Three Memphis Fire Department officials have also been fired.

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