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Three Memphis fire department employees fired in Tyre Nichols case


2023-01-31T00:28:35Z

The Memphis Fire Department said on Monday it had dismissed two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant who responded to the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols, after investigators found that a patient assessment was not conducted in a timely manner at the scene.

The three fire department employees “violated numerous (fire department) policies and protocols,” the agency said in a statement issued by Fire Chief Gina Sweat.

The terminations came as the Memphis Police Department disclosed that a total of seven of its officers were relieved of duty for their roles in the confrontation that led to the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. That tally included five officers who previously were dismissed from the force and were charged last week with murder.

A sixth officer – identified as Preston Hemphill – was suspended with pay pending a hearing, and a seventh officer who was not immediately identified was relieved of duty without pay, the police department said. No criminal charges have been filed against Hemphill, 26, who joined the force in 2018, or against the seventh, unnamed officer.

A police department spokesperson declined to comment on why suspensions were not announced earlier.

Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has previously said that an unspecified number of officers besides the five initially implicated remained under investigation for policy infractions stemming from the arrest of Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop.

The five officers dismissed on Jan. 20 – all of them Black – were charged Thursday with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in the fatal beating of Nichols.

Hemphill, who is white, wore the body-camera that captured the first of four videos released by authorities on Friday of the traffic stop and violent confrontation that followed, according to the officer’s attorney, Lee Gerald.

Nichols arrived at a hospital in critical condition after he was repeatedly pummeled with punches, kicks and blows from a baton, and he died three days later.

EMTs Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment” upon seeing the injured Nichols a few minutes after police stopped beating him. Instead, after an initial “interaction” with Nichols the EMTs called for an ambulance, which arrived on the scene about 23 minutes after the EMTs had first been dispatched, Sweat said in her statement.

She said the ambulance unit “initiated patient care” upon its arrival and transported Nichols to a hospital a short time later.

Fire Department Lieutenant Michelle Whitaker, who drove Long and Sandridge to the scene, remained in her vehicle after the three arrived, the statement said.

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A view shows a memorial for Tyre Nichols at the intersection of Castlegate Lane and Bear Creek Cove in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., January 30, 2023. This memorial marks the area where Tyre Nichols was beaten during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers. He later died from his injuries. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer

Memphis Police Department officer Preston Hemphill poses at a graduation ceremony for the 97th Crisis Intervention Class in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. July 21, 2022. Memphis Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

A Memphis Police Department video surveillance camera is mounted near a memorial for Tyre Nichols at the intersection of Castlegate Lane and Bear Creek Cove in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., January 30, 2023. This memorial marks the area where Tyre Nichols was beaten during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers. He later died from his injuries. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer

People protest against the fatal beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols by Memphis Police officers, during a rally in Oakland, California, U.S. January 29, 2023. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon

An image is projected onto the facade of the Oakland Police Department during a protest against the fatal beating of Black motorist Tyre Nichols by Memphis Police officers, during a rally in Oakland, California, U.S. January 29, 2023. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon