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Two More Memphis Police Officers Fired After Tire Nichols' Fatal Beating


Fallout from the fatal police beating of Tire Nichols includes the firing of a sixth Memphis police officer.

Former commissioner asks to recover image of the Memphis Police 2:25

Editor's Note:

This article contains explicit descriptions of violence that may be disturbing. 

(CNN) --

Fallout from the fatal beating Tire Nichols suffered at the hands of police includes the firing of two Memphis officers, as calls mount for criminal charges against more uniformed officers and police reform. in all the country.

The sixth officer to be fired, Preston Hemphill was part of the now-disbanded SCORPION unit, a source familiar with his mission confirmed to CNN.

"He was relieved of his duties along with the other officers," Memphis Police Commander Karen Rudolph said Monday.

Hemphill was placed on leave at the start of the investigation into the brutal two-part traffic stop on Jan. 7, said police spokeswoman Kimberly Elder, who declined to say if it is a paid leave or if there is any another agent down.

Hemphill was the third officer at Nichols' initial stop, the officer's attorney said, noting that he was "never present at the second scene" and is cooperating with the investigation.

Hemphill activated his body camera, per department policy, and the recording of him was among videos released Friday by Memphis police, Lee Gerald added.

The Memphis Police Department opened an internal investigation into 7 officers following the Tire Nichols incident on January 7, according to a news release.

On January 8, seven officers were relieved of their duties, including the five officers who have been charged, Officer Preston Hemphill and another officer they have not named, according to the statement.


Internal Affairs investigators made it a priority to first interview officers and witnesses associated with the second scene, where the most egregious aspects of the incident occurred, according to the statement.

"The actions and inactions of Agent Hemphill and the other agent have been and continue to be the subject of this investigation since its inception on January 8, 2023," the statement added.

According to the statement, there are still numerous charges in development that are imminent.

The official response to the police beating of Nichols was relatively swift: the five black officers involved were fired and charged with manslaughter and unlawful imprisonment, and their SCORPION unit was permanently dismissed.

In addition, new details of the case are emerging amid heightened public scrutiny over the use of force by US police, especially against people of color.

  • Death of Tire Nichols revives the debate on police brutality: the most notorious cases in the United States

Among the key issues remaining to be resolved in the Nichols case:

Whether there will be more consequences, including charges, for officers:

Why more officers who were at the scene of Nichols' beating have not been disciplined or suspended is a top concern for City Council member Frank Colvett, he said. on Sunday.

It is also unclear if Hemphill or others will face criminal charges.

"We are vetting all officers and emergency personnel on the scene," Erica Williams, a spokeswoman for the Shelby County District Attorney's Office, said Monday.

"They might face charges, or they might not, but we're looking at everyone."

It was "unprecedented" for indictment charges against the officers to be filed in just a few weeks, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN on Sunday.

How Memphis Police Chief Will Fare:

While some have praised Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis's quick action on the case, she also created the controversial SCORPION unit to which the accused officers were linked.

"A reckoning is looming for the police department and its leadership," Colvett said.

"He's going to have to answer not just to the council, but to the citizens, and really to the world."

What's happening with fire and sheriff personnel:

Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols' initial care have been relieved of their duties, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

And two Shelby County sheriff's deputies have been placed on leave pending investigation.

If Nichols' death leads to nationwide police reform:

The Black legislative caucus in Congress has requested a meeting with President Joe Biden this week to advance negotiations on police reform.

Officials knew that releasing video of the beating of Nichols without charging officers could be "arsonous," Mulroy said.

"The best solution was to expedite the investigation and expedite the consideration of the charges so that the charges would be filed first and then the video would be released."

The images of the fatal encounter are difficult to see.

He opens with a traffic stop and later shows officers repeatedly hitting Nichols with batons, punching and kicking him, even at one point tying his hands behind his back.

Nichols is heard calling for his mother as he is being kicked and pepper sprayed.

He collapsed on the ground, handcuffed.

Another 23 minutes passed before a stretcher arrived at the scene.

Nichols was hospitalized and died three days later.

"All of these officers broke their oath," Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing the Nichols family, told CNN on Sunday.

"They failed their oath to protect and serve. Watch that video: Was someone trying to protect and serve Tire Nichols?"

As a makeshift memorial grew over the weekend on the corner where Nichols was struck, protesters marched in New York, Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles.

Nichols's family, now at the center of unusual media attention, remembered him as a good son and father who enjoyed skating, photography and sunsets.

They remembered his smile and his hugs and regretted the moments that they will never live again.

The relatives also vowed to "continue to speak his name until justice is done."

Protesters gather in New York on Saturday to denounce the police beating of Tire Nichols in Memphis.

Credit: Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Expert Questions Intentional Manslaughter Charges

The five fired officers charged in connection with the Nichols beating -- Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin and Desmond Mills Jr. -- are expected to be arraigned on February 17.

The Memphis Police Association, the union that represents them, declined to comment on the layoffs beyond saying the city of Memphis and Nichols' family "deserve to know the full account of the events leading up to his death and what was able to contribute to it," according to a statement.

According to the Shelby County District Attorney's Office, they each face seven counts: manslaughter, aggravated assault, aggravated unlawful imprisonment and bodily harm, aggravated unlawful imprisonment with possession of a deadly weapon , misconduct of an official and repression of an official.

But a manslaughter charge, which requires intent to kill, could be more difficult to prove than a first-degree murder charge, said Alexis Hoag-Fordjour, an assistant professor of law and co-director of the College's Center for Criminal Justice. of Brooklyn Law.

  • Timeline of investigations into the death of Tire Nichols following a traffic stop and arrest by Memphis police

"For first-degree murder, it means that a homicide occurred in conjunction with an underlying crime," Hoag-Fordjour said, noting that he practiced law in Tennessee.

"In this case, each and every charge that the Memphis district attorney brought against these five individuals was a felony. And the underlying offense that would support a charge of first degree murder, felony manslaughter, is unlawful deprivation of freedom".

The unlawful deprivation charges against the officers may seem unusual because "obviously we delegate to law enforcement officers to make seizures, to make arrests," Hoag-Fordjour told "CNN This Morning" on Monday.

"But at this point... what would have been legitimate behavior crossed the line into illegitimacy."

While first-degree murder might be easier to prove, Hoag-Fordjour said, manslaughter convictions are still possible.

Under Tennessee law, a person can be convicted of manslaughter if they could be reasonably certain that their actions would result in the death of someone, Hoag-Fordjour said.

And some of the blows inflicted on Nichols, including kicks to the head and being struck with a baton while he was pinned to the ground, could be considered fatal, he said.

SCORPION unit linked to deadly beating disbanded

The five officers charged with the beating of Nichols were members of the now-disbanded unit, Street Crime Operation to Restore Peace to Our Neighborhoods, or SCORPION, a police spokeswoman said Saturday. Memphis, Commander Karen Rudolph.

The unit, implemented in 2021, placed officers in areas where police were seeing spikes in violent crime.

"That reprehensible behavior that we saw on that video, we believe was part of the culture of the SCORPION unit," Crump said.

"We demand its immediate dissolution before something similar happens again," he added.

"The culture was as guilty of the death of Tire Nichols as these agents."

  • Tire Nichols' mother says ex-Memphis police officers "embarrassed" their families and the black community

Memphis police will permanently disable the unit.

"While the heinous actions of a few cast a cloud of dishonor over the SCORPION title, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all affected," the department said.

Colvett supported the dismantling of the SCORPION unit.

"I think the measure is smart and the mayor is right to shut it down," the councilman said.

"These types of actions are not representative of the Memphis Police Department."

The case should give the city a chance to "dig deeper" into police-community relations, Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas said.

"We saw a very peaceful and direct sense of protest in the city of Memphis, and I think it's because maybe we have faith and hope that the system is going to get it right this time," Easter-Thomas said.

Calls for police reform grow

Crump called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Police Justice Act, which passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in 2021 but not the evenly divided Senate.

"The brutal beating of Tire Nichols was a homicide and is a grim reminder that we still have a long way to go in resolving systemic police violence in America," the chairman of Congress's Black legislative caucus said in a statement Sunday. Rep. Steven Horsford.

The president of the Tennessee State Conference's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) applauded Davis for "doing the right thing" by not waiting six months to a year to fire the officers who beat up Tire Nichols.

But he had harsher words for Congress: "By not crafting and passing bills to end police brutality, you are writing another black man's obituary," said Gloria Sweet-Love.

"The blood of black America is on your hands. So get up and do something."

At the state level, two Democratic legislators have indicated their intention to introduce police reform bills before the deadline for submission of applications from the General Assembly, this Tuesday.

According to GA Hardaway, a representative for the state of Tennessee, who represents a portion of Memphis and Shelby County, the bills would address mental health care for law enforcement officers, hiring, training, disciplinary practices, and Other themes.

Although Democrats are in the minority, with 24 representatives to the Republican Party's 99, this legislation is nonpartisan and should pass on both sides of the legislature, said Rep. Joe Towns Jr.

"You would be under a lot of pressure if you look at this (Tyre Nichols) footage and see what happened to that young man, OK, and you don't want to do something," he said.

"If a dog from this county took a beating like that, what the hell would happen?"

-- Mark Morales, Chuck Johnston, Jaide Timm-Garcia, Isabel Rosales Jasmine Wright, Phin Percy, Shimon Prokupecz, Sara Smart, Jamiel Lynch, Sharif Paget, Christina Zdanowicz, Amanda Watts, and Aileen Graef contributed reporting.

Tyre Nichols

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-01-30

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