Sixth Memphis police officer suspended in connection with Tyre Nichols beating
A sixth Memphis police officer involved in the brutal beating and arrest of Tyre Nichols had been suspended, a department spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
The officer, Preston Hemphill, was placed on administrative leave shortly after the Police Department began its investigation into the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols in a southeast Memphis neighborhood. It was not immediately clear what role Hemphill, who joined the force in 2018, played in the incident.
Nichols died at an area hospital three days after a traffic stop that spiraled into the gruesome assault in which officers kicked, punched and pepper sprayed the 29-year-old Nichols while he was being restrained by other officers. The killing has reignited debate over the role of police in traffic enforcement and the existence of specialized crime suppression units. The officers who pulled Nichols over for an unspecified traffic violation were members of one such team — nicknamed the Scorpion unit — which has since been disbanded.
After a review of video footage of the beating, five of the involved officers were fired and charged with murder for Nichols’ death. In the weeks since the incident, local activists have pushed for police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis to terminate other officers who were present as well.
A spokesperson for the Police Department said Hemphill’s suspension was not announced sooner because the officer had not been fired and the department typically releases information about officers who are relieved of duty after an investigation ends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.