By Kalyn Womack
Five Black officers were “relieved of duty,” and fired almost immediately thereafter as the investigation into Tyre Nichols’ death progressed. And thanks to the body camera footage, even more officers involved have been identified—including Preston Hemphill (pictured above), who was heard saying, “I hope they stomp his ass” after Nichols ran away, per Insider.
The department says Hemphill was seen on that footage firing a Taser at Nichols during the first police encounter. However, attorneys for Nichols’ family allege he did more than just fire the stun gun; he also dragged Nichols out of his vehicle and hit him repeatedly with the non-lethal weapon. The department announced on Monday that Hemphill was relieved from duty and put on paid administrative leave.
Now the family’s attorneys and the public are asking why the one white cop who has been identified in connection with the alleged murder can keep collecting paychecks while the others face criminal charges. Not to mention, Hemphill’s attorney says he’s been on paid leave since the start of the investigation.
“Why is his identity and the role he played in Tyre’s death just now coming to light? — It certainly begs the question why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and protected from the public eye, and to date, from sufficient discipline and accountability,” read a statement from Benjamin Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci.
There’s a seventh officer who was also relieved of duty, but their identity has not been disclosed. And the city didn’t stop at the police department. Two more agencies had to reevaluate their employees.
Three fire department employees were fired Monday after they were accused of violating “numerous” departmental policies and protocols, the agency said in a statement. The department didn’t provide a list of charges. It said two of the employees — both EMTs — “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols.”
The third employee, a lieutenant, remained in her vehicle, the department said.
Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies were also relieved of duty pending an administrative investigation in connection with Nichols’ death, Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. announced Friday night after having watched the video for the first time.
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