Posted 55 days ago
A sixth Memphis police officer has been suspended over the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols earlier this month.
A lawyer for Preston Hemphill confirmed he was the white officer whose body camera footage was released by Memphis PD on Friday.
The video shows the officer attempting to arrest FedEx driver Nichols, 29, after he had initially been pulled over, then firing his Taser at him as he ran from police. Hemphill initially gives chase, but gives up and returns to the scene of the traffic stop.
He speaks to another officer, saying “one of the prongs” from his Taser had “hit the b—ard”. Later in the footage says “I hope they stomp his ass,” referring to Nichols, a number of times.
However, Hemphill’s lawyer, Lee Gerald, said in a statement his client was never at the second scene where cops beat Nichols unconscious.
“Officer Hemphill is relieved of duty. This is an ongoing investigation. Once additional information is available, we will update our social media platforms. Hemphill was hired in 2018,” a department spokesperson said.
In Hemphill’s bodycam, he helps pour water in an unidentified officer’s eyes after he got pepper spray in them and he spends minutes trying to catch his breath again following his brief run after Nichols.
Other video taken during the deadly Jan. 7 traffic stop showed Memphis officers aggressively pull Nichols, who was black, from his car then give chase after he managed to break free.
Five officers caught up with him minutes later and mercilessly beat him, using a telescopic baton and a Taser as he begged for his mother, whose home was only about 60 yards away, leaving him unconscious.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, 24, Demetrius Haley, 30, Emmitt Martin III, 30, Desmond Mills Jr., 32, and Justin Smith, 28, who are all black, were fired on Jan. 20 after an internal investigation found they had used excessive force and failed in their duties to intervene and render aid.
Days later, they were all charged with second-degree murder and other offenses and booked into Shelby County jail. Each officer posted between $250,000 and $350,000 bail and has since been released.
The police have declined to comment on the role Hemphill had in the traffic stop. He has not been fired or charged with a crime at this time. He arrived at the scene just after other officers, who had pulled Nichols over claiming he was driving recklessly.
The release of the video of the assault prompted protests across the US against police violence. People took to the streets in New York, Atlanta, Memphis, Oakland and Baltimore over the weekend in what were largely peaceful protests.... (Read more)