A Memphis police officer has been suspended for his involvement in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, days after the city released video footage of the killing to the public, and five other officers were fired and charged with the Black man’s murder.
The suspended officer – identified as Preston Hemphill – was relieved of duty with pay pending an administrative hearing, a Memphis Police Department spokesperson said, noting that an investigation into the incident was underway. He declined to comment on Hemphill’s specific involvement with the case.
No criminal charges have been announced against Hemphill, who has worked for the department since 2018.
The five dismissed officers – all of them Black – have been charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in the death of Nichols, a 29-year-old who was beaten by police after a traffic stop. Hemphill is white.
On Friday, the department released footage from body-worn cameras and a camera mounted on a utility pole showing officers kicking, punching and striking Nichols with a baton in his mother’s neighborhood after the Jan. 7 traffic stop. He was hospitalized and died of his injuries three days later.
After the release of the videos, protesters over the weekend gathered and called for policing reforms in Memphis and other cities throughout the nation, from New York City to Sacramento, California, where Nichols once lived.
The peaceful demonstrations have been a stark contrast to the sense of anger, frustration and hopelessness that was on display during civil unrest after bystander video of the 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis shocked the nation.
The NAACP Memphis Branch on Sunday called for all officers and first responders involved in the violent incident to be held accountable.
“We want them to be terminated and we want them to suffer the consequences of their actions,” NCAAP President Van Turner said at a press conference.
Some of the officers involved in the beating were a part of Scorpion, the specialized police unit that the department disbanded on Saturday.
Since the incident, protesters in Memphis have demanded that the department identify all officers on the scene of the beating and release their personnel files, the Commercial Appeal reported.