A sixth Memphis officer was fired Friday after an internal police investigation showed he violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, including rules surrounding the deployment of a stun gun, officials said. Preston Hemphill had been suspended as he was investigated for his role in the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who died in a hospital three days later. Five Memphis officers have already been fired and charged with second-degree murder in Nichols' death, per the AP. Nichols was beaten after police stopped him for what they said was a traffic violation. Video released after pressure from Nichols' family shows officers holding him down and repeatedly punching, kicking, and striking him with a baton as he screamed for his mother.
The officers who've been fired and charged are Black, as was Nichols. Hemphill is white. One other officer has been suspended but hasn't been identified. Hemphill was the third officer at the traffic stop that preceded the arrest but wasn't at the location where Nichols was beaten after he ran away. On bodycam footage from the initial stop, Hemphill is heard saying that he used a stun gun against Nichols and declaring, "I hope they stomp his ass." Along with breaking rules regarding the use of a stun gun, Hemphill was also fired for violations of personal conduct and truthfulness, police said in a statement. Police announced Hemphill's suspension on Jan. 30, but they said Hemphill was actually suspended shortly after the arrest.
Memphis police rep Karen Rudolph has said information about Hemphill's suspension wasn't immediately released because Hemphill hadn't been fired. The department generally gives out information about an officer's punishment only after a department investigation into misconduct ends, Rudolph said. After the suspension was announced, lawyers for Nichols' family questioned why the department didn't disclose Hemphill's discipline earlier. "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,” attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement. Also Friday, a Tennessee board suspended the EMT licenses of two ex-Memphis Fire Department employees, Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge, for failing to render critical care.
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