A police document alleges that another Memphis officer engaged in the traffic stop of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died days after being brutally beaten by police last month, lied to investigators.
Last Monday, Memphis Police Department fired Preston Hemphill for violating personal conduct and truthfulness regulations. After Nichols’ death, he was fired sixth.
According to Memphis Police’s decertification letter to the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, Hemphill said Nichols tried to grab his partner’s duty firearm (POST).
The paper stated, “There is no camera footage to verify that statement.” Hemphill told investigators he “did not witness the individual seize your partner’s gun.”
“I hope they kick his ass,” Hemphill said after tasing Nichols on his body cam. Hemphill said, “Get on the f**king ground,” while on Nichols. “Finna tase yo ass,” according to a police document CNN received Thursday.
The January revelation of cops punching and kicking 29-year-old Nichols shocked a society used to police violence, especially against people of colour.
“Not consistent with each other and are not compatible with the publicly known injuries and death of Mr. Nichols,” letters of decertification for five other officers involved in Nichols’ killing read earlier this week.
Hemphill stated Nichols was stopped for “driving recklessly at a high rate of speed,” but he “did not witness the subject drive in such a manner,” the document read.
“You reported that you and your partners stopped the motorist and sought to detain him, and he began to resist,” the decertification letter states.
You said that after he stood up, he resumed fighting with you and your partner, and you used your city-issued taser. “The footage does not support your claim,” it added.
“Video footage shows the individual was not resisting but fleeing away from you when you attempted to tase him,” it stated.
The document says Hemphill reviewed his version and informed investigators it was accurate.
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“Your responses were contradictory and untruthful, and you documented false statements,” it continued.
State decertification would bar Hemphill from working for other state police enforcement agencies.
Hemphill’s attorney, Lee Gerald, said they disagree with his firing but are complying with the investigation.
“Regardless of what the Memphis Police department and the commission choose to do about his prospective decertification, Mr. Hemphill will continue to cooperate with authorities in the inquiry into the death of Tyre Nichols,” Gerald told CNN.
Hemphill wasn’t charged. The district attorney said the other five terminated cops will be arraigned next week on seven counts, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping with bodily damage, aggravated kidnapping with a dangerous weapon, official misconduct, and official oppression.
The Shelby County district attorney said Thursday it will investigate all previous cases involving the five former police officers.
“The office will evaluate all prior cases—closed and pending,” Shelby County District Attorney Steven Mulroy said.
“This is just the beginning,” Mulroy spokeswoman Erica Williams told CNN. The officers’ criminal cases are included. Any DA-brought criminal charges since they became officials.”
According to the New York Times, Officer Demetrius Haley photographed Tyre Nichols.
Haley seems to shine a light upon Nichols and take a cell phone photo in the video. He looks at the phone, then returns to Nichols and leans over him, shining his light in his face and snapping another photo.
— Sir Maejor (@sirmaejor) January 30, 2023
Internal police records charged Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. of breaking department standards on personal conduct, negligence of duty, excessive or needless force, and body-worn cameras. Non-criminal charges.
Personnel files show that several of the discharged officers received written reprimands or short suspensions for policy violations.
In November 2021, another officer was disciplined for “excessive/unnecessary force” after a female suspect dislocated her shoulder. Haley was involved. Haley was penalised for failing to document his role in the detention but not for force.
Mills was reprimanded in 2019 for not filling a form after physically assaulting a suspect. Mills forced the lady “to the ground so that she could be handcuffed,” according to his hearing description.
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