Posted on February 1, 2023

Tyre Nichols’s Family Attorneys Question White Officer’s Discipline After Nichols’s Death

Marquise Francis, Yahoo, January 30, 2023

Attorneys for the family of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man fatally beaten by Memphis police following a traffic stop, expressed disappointment and frustration with the Memphis Police Department over the news that a sixth officer involved in the stop has been relieved of his duty, but has not been fired or charged.

Officer Preston Hemphill, who is white, was relieved of his duties “when the other officers were relieved,” a Memphis police spokesperson told Memphis ABC affiliate WATN. That was over a week ago.

In that time, the other five officers, who are all Black, have been fired and charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses, which has raised even more questions for the department about its transparency and alludes to the possible racial dynamics in the case.

“The news today from Memphis officials that Officer Preston Hemphill was reportedly relieved of duty weeks ago, but not yet terminated or charged, is extremely disappointing,” civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a joint statement Monday. {snip}

Memphis police did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment, but late Monday afternoon announced that another officer, in addition to Hemphill, was relieved of their duties following the violent beating of Nichols — bringing the total number of disciplined officers to seven.

News of Hemphill’s discipline angered waves of people already reeling from yet another incident of police brutality, particularly after the department’s swift and public firing of the five Black officers.

“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,” Crump’s statement continued. “The Memphis Police Department owes us all answers.”

The Memphis Fire Department announced Monday that it had terminated two EMTs and a lieutenant for “violating numerous policies” in caring for Nichols. Prosecutors are examining whether to bring charges against these employees.


Hemphill, however, who joined the Memphis Police Department in 2018, has not been charged with any crimes.