Sixth officer is ‘relieved of duty’ after Tyre Nichols’ death, Memphis police say

It was not immediately clear why the department did not discipline Hemphill the day the five officers were fired or what prompted Monday’s announcement.

“Officer Hemphill is relieved of duty. This is an ongoing investigation. Once additional information is available, we will update our social media platforms. Hemphill was hired in 2018,” a department spokesperson said without elaborating.

A representative with the union representing rank-and-file officers, the Memphis Police Association, could not be reached for comment.

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was an amateur photographer and skateboarder, was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days after the traffic stop.

Multiple police videos show officers punching, kicking and hitting Nichols with a baton.

There were three videos from police body cameras and one from a police surveillance camera mounted on a pole. A body camera video shows Nichols escaped while on the ground and an officer shot a stun gun at him. At least one officer appeared to have been hit with a chemical irritant when it was sprayed at Nichols during the initial encounter.

Tyre Nichols.
Tyre Nichols.Courtesy Ben Crump Law

Nichols managed to run to his mother’s neighborhood and was about 80 yards from her house when video captured multiple officers assaulting him as he shouted for her help.

Two Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies were relieved of duty pending an administrative investigation in connection to Nichols’ death, Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. announced Friday night after watching the video for the first time.

Bonner said he had “concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols.”

The investigation will look into their conduct to determine what happened and if any policies were violated, the sheriff said. 

Last week, two Memphis fire personnel also were “relieved of duty” while that department conducts an internal investigation into Nichols’s death.

Fire spokesperson Qwanesha Ward said the employees were “involved in the initial patient care” of Nichols; she did not provide further details.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and we cannot comment further at this time,” Ward said in a Jan. 24 statement.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Melissa Chan contributed.

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