Tyre Nichols: Sixth Memphis police officer fired for role in arrest

Preston Hemphill (via REUTERS)
Preston Hemphill (via REUTERS)

A sixth Memphis officer was fired on Friday after an internal police investigation showed he violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, officials said.

Preston Hemphill had previously been suspended following an investigation into his role in the arrest of Mr Nichols.

Hemphill was the third officer at a traffic stop that preceded the violent arrest but was not present when Mr Nichols was beaten.

Mr Nichols, 29, was beaten by law enforcement officers in Memphis on the night of January 7 after being pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving.

Horrifying footage showed Mr Nichols being kicked, pepper-sprayed and hit with a baton by police officers. He died in hospital three days later.

On body camera footage from the initial stop, Hemphill is heard saying that he stunned Mr Nichols, declaring: “I hope they stomp his ass.”

The Memphis Police Department has fired five other officers and prosecutors charged them last week with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression.

Two paramedics and their on-scene supervisor were dismissed on Monday from the city’s fire department, while two Shelby County sheriff ‘s deputies have also been suspended.

The chief of police, Cerelyn Davis, has called the conduct seen in the video "inhumane" and said investigators have not substantiated that Mr Nichols was driving recklessly.

Politicians and civil rights leaders joined the family and friends of Nichols to pay their final respects at his funeral on Wednesday.

Dr Jason Lawrence Turner, of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, welcomed the world into his church for the funeral, which was televised and streamed online.

He said: "We have come with heavy hearts that can only be healed by the grace of God, full transparency, accountability and comprehensive legislative reform."

He added that Mr Nichols had been "denied the dignity of his humanity, denied the right to see the sunset another day, to embrace his mother, hanging out with his friends, to see his child grow".

A eulogy was delivered at the funeral by the civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton, who told mourners that too many families "know what it is to sit at a funeral like this" - paying tribute to attending relatives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who were also killed at the hands of police officers and whose deaths in 2020 sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

The US Vice President, Kamala Harris, led a delegation of officials on behalf of the White House after being invited by Mr Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells.

She told the family: "You have been extraordinary in terms of your strength, your courage and your grace, and we mourn with you."