“Officer Preston Hemphill has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the administrative investigation,” the police department told The Washington Post late Monday morning. “Officer Hemphill was hired in 2018.”
Hemphill, a White man, was relieved of duty at the same time as the other five officers charged in the incident, said Kim Elder, a spokesperson for the Memphis Police. Hemphill has not been charged, Elder said.
Hemphill’s attorney, Lee Gerald, confirmed in a statement that his client was the third officer at the initial stop and the first video was from his body camera.
“As per departmental regulations Officer Hemphill activated his body cam,” Gerald said. “He was never present at the second scene. He is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”
Hemphill’s body camera captures part of the initial confrontation with Nichols. In the video, Hemphill can be seen using a Taser on him. Later, a voice on the body cam that seems to be Hemphill’s says, “I hope they stomp his a--” after Nichols escaped.
Nichols, 29, was stopped by police for an alleged traffic violation and died three days after the Jan. 7 beating. Videos of the beating were released Friday, leading to protests and putting a national spotlight on Memphis police.
What Memphis police videos show, and don’t show, about Tyre Nichols beating
The four videos, which were edited by the police before being released, tell a story different from the Memphis Police Department’s initial claims.
The footage shows police pepper-spraying, punching, and kicking Nichols, as well as dragging and Tasering him.
The police department’s initial statement had described “a confrontation,” followed by Nichols running away. Then, the statement said, “another confrontation occurred.” The statement read: “Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath,” and “he was transported to St. Francis Hospital.”
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