Two more officers, three first responders suspended after Tyre Nichols' death

People have taken to the streets to call for action after the death of Tyre Nichols. (Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon)

Two additional Memphis police officers have been placed on administrative leave, and three emergency responders have been terminated about the death of Tyre Nichols, days after five officers were terminated and accused of allegedly beating him to death.

A spokeswoman for the Memphis Police Department stated that Preston Hemphill was suspended with pay pending an administrative hearing.

The representative stated that a second officer was suspended but did not identify them or clarify their role in the incident.

The spokeswoman stated that an inquiry into the January 7 event was underway but declined to comment on Mr Hemphill's role.

Mr Hemphill was the third officer at the traffic stop that preceded Tyre Nichols' violent arrest. Still, he was not present when Nichols was beaten, according to Mr Hemphill's attorney, Lee Gerald.

He said that Mr Hemphill activated his body camera by departmental regulation.

Mr Hemphill may be heard on body camera footage from the original stop stating that he had stunned Mr Nichols and said, "I hope they stomp his ass."

No criminal charges against Mr Hemphill have been announced. He has worked for the department since 2018 and is Caucasian.

Seven cops have been disciplined due to the killing of 29-year-old Mr Nichols, including five black officers who have been charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct, and oppression.

On Friday, the department revealed footage from body cameras and a camera installed on a utility pole showing officers kicking, punching, and hitting him with a baton after a traffic stop in his mother's neighbourhood.

He was taken to the hospital and died three days later from his injuries.

Monday, attorneys for the Nichols family want to know why the police department did not reveal Mr Hemphill's disciplinary action earlier and why he had not been fired or punished.

The lawyers added in a statement, "We have asked from the beginning that the Memphis Police Department be 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 why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and protected from the public eye, and to date, sufficient discipline and accountability."

Karen Rudolph, a spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department, stated that information on disciplinary action taken against Mr Hemphill was not immediately provided because Hemphill was not terminated.

The Memphis Fire Department has also terminated two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and a driver of their reaction to the incident.

Officials from the fire department stated that EMTs Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge failed to do an "adequate patient assessment" on Mr Nichols.

According to officials, Lieutenant Michelle Whitaker, who drove the fire engine to the site, was also fired for breaking department rules.

On the weekend, protestors gathered in Memphis and other cities, including New York and Sacramento, where Mr Nichols formerly resided, to demand police reforms.

The peaceful demonstrations have been a dramatic contrast to the rage, frustration, and hopelessness seen during the civil disturbance that followed the video of George Floyd's death by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020.

Sunday, the Memphis Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) demanded accountability for all officers and first responders engaged in the violent event.

Some of the cops responsible for the assault were members of Scorpion, a specialized police unit that the department disbanded on Saturday.

The Commercial Appeal said that after the event, demonstrators in Memphis have asked that the department name all officers present at the scene of the beating and release their personnel files.

Publish : 2023-01-31 10:44:00

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