Sixth Officer Relieved of Duty in Death of Tyre Nichols, Sparking Calls for Police Reform
On January 7th, five Memphis Police officers were fired and later indicted on numerous charges, including second-degree murder, in the death of Tyre Nichols. Now, a sixth officer has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
The body camera footage released by Memphis Police shows the initial encounter between Nichols and police on the night of his death. The footage shows officers pulling Nichols out of a car at Raines and Ross roads as he yells, “I didn’t do anything.” An officer can be heard yelling, “Bitch, put your hands behind your back before I… I’m going to knock your ass the fuck out.”
The officers can be seen forcibly removing him from the car and pressing a taser against his leg while making verbal threats. Nichols can be heard saying, “I am on the ground,” and one officer responds, “On your stomach.” Three seconds later, another officer shoots pepper spray into Nichols’ face.
The camera shakes as Nichols runs and an officer, identified as Preston Hemphill, shoots at him with a taser. The footage also captured an officer saying “I hope they stomp his ass” after Nichols’ attempt to flee the scene.
The Memphis Fire Department also released a statement saying that three of their personnel have been fired for violating numerous policies and protocols during Nichols’ arrest. They said that the two EMTs responded to the call based on the nature of the call (person pepper sprayed) and information they were told on the scene, but failed to do an adequate assessment of Nichols.
Attorneys for the Nichols family released a statement saying they are disappointed in the way Hemphill has been shielded and protected so far, and that the Memphis Police Department owe them all answers. The District Attorney’s office has also stated that they are looking at all individuals involved in the events leading up to, during, and after the beating of Tyre Nichols.
This tragedy has sparked protests and calls for national police reform across the U.S. It is an ongoing investigation, and the current charges do not preclude additional charges as more information is presented. It is time for the Memphis Police Department to take accountability and be transparent with the family and the community.
0. “Tyre Nichols: Here are the key revelations from the police videos” CNN, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/28/us/tyre-nichols-beating-video-takeaways/index.html
1. “Sixth Memphis Police Officer Involved in Tyre Nichols Confrontation Relieved of Duty: Reports” PEOPLE, 30 Jan. 2023, https://people.com/crime/sixth-officer-tyre-nichols-relieved-of-duty-reports/
2. “Tyre Nichols Footage Could Be Key to Prosecution, but Video Evidence Presents Challenges in Court” The Wall Street Journal, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/tyre-nichols-footage-could-be-key-to-prosecution-but-video-evidence-presents-challenges-in-police-cases-11675014777
3. “Police Ordered Tyre Nichols to Obey 71 Commands. He Was Set Up to Fail” Rolling Stone, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/tyre-nichols-video-analysis-impossible-police-commands-1234670670/
4. “NAACP Memphis wants all involved in Tyre Nichols' death to be terminated and prosecuted” Commercial Appeal, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/2023/01/30/tyre-nichols-death-naacp-memphis-wants-officers-involved-terminated/69852271007
5. “3 MFD firefighters fired in connection to Tyre Nichols’ death” FOX13 Memphis, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.fox13memphis.com/news/local/3-mfd-firefighters-fired-connection-tyre-nichols-death/CDIEER62BRE2ROPVY7EVNHVTAU/
6. “3 Memphis fire personnel fired for their response to the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols” NBC News, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/memphis-paramedics-terminated-response-fatal-beating-tyre-nichols-rcna68284
7. “Three Memphis Fire Department employees fired as Tyre Nichols' death investigation continues” WATN – Local 24, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/local/three-memphis-fire-department-employees-fired-tyre-nichols-death-investigation-mfd-mpd/522-5d40648a-c6ce-4558-98f4-a74996613bb5
8. “PHOTOS: See protests unfold across the country after release of Tyre Nichols video” NPR, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2023/01/27/1152198276/photos-protests-tyre-nichols-memphis-police