(MAINNEWS) – Memphis police on Friday fired a sixth officer involved in the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was beaten by officers in the Tennessee city last month.
The Memphis Police Department identified the officer as Preston Hemphill, saying in a statement that Hemphill violated department policies on personal conduct, truthfulness, and compliance with regulations regarding the use of a Taser, among other violations.
Five other officers, all Black, have previously been fired and charged with second-degree murder over the death of Nichols, the latest in a series of African-American victims whose deaths have fueled a national debate about race and police brutality.
“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, an attorney representing Hemphill, said by telephone.
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, who is white, and a seventh officer had previously been relieved of duty. Three members of the fire department have also been fired for failing to provide proper emergency medical treatment after Nichols was handcuffed.
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.
Police video of the events showed officers kicking, punching and beating Nichols with a baton after pulling him out of his car during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. Nichols died of his injuries three days later.
Hemphill wore the body camera that captured the first of four videos released by authorities, Gerald said previously.
In the video, Hemphill appears to fire a Taser stun gun at Nichols after Nichols is dragged from his car, forced to the ground and doused with pepper spray before he breaks free and runs away. The five officers who were later dismissed chased him and participated in the most severe beatings.
by Daniel Trotta