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Memphis prosecutor sees more charges possible in Nichols case


2023-01-31T16:51:21Z

Memphis prosecutors could bring more criminal charges against police officers and others involved in the events leading up to and following the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, the county district attorney said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

The tweet came in response to growing criticism over how the Memphis Police Department and the office of Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy have handled the case.

On Monday, the department revealed that a sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, was suspended from the force soon after the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man, who died in a hospital three days after being pulled over in a traffic stop and beaten. But no charges have been filed against Hemphill, a white officer who was not present at the site of the fatal beating.

Last week five other officers – all of them Black – were charged with second-degree murder and dismissed from the force.

After video footage of the deadly encounter with police was made public on Friday, calls have grown louder for local police officials and prosecutors to be more transparent about the circumstances of incident, given that the initial police reports do not match with what was seen on the videos.

In the statement that first appeared on the district attorney’s website, Mulroy said other policemen, fire department personal and others who prepared documentation of the incident may also face criminal charges as more information becomes available.

“We are looking at all individuals involved in the events leading up to, during, and after the beating of Tyre Nichols,” the office said, adding that the investigation is incomplete.

In an apparent reference to Hemphill, the office said an officer present during the initial encounter with Nichols may also face charges. Hemphill was suspended with pay pending a hearing.

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

In the video, it is Hemphill who appears to fire a stun gun at Nichols after Nichols is dragged from his car, forced to the ground and doused with pepper spray before he breaks free and runs away. The five officers who were later dismissed chased him.

A seventh officer who was not immediately identified was also relieved of duty without pay, the department said on Monday, and that officer has not been charged. His role in the incident has not been disclosed.

Three members of the Memphis Fire Department who responded to the altercation were dismissed on Monday after investigators found Nichols was left handcuffed on the ground without medical attention for nearly 15 minutes after the beating.

Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has said an unspecified number of officers besides the five initially charged remained under investigation for policy infractions stemming from the arrest of Nichols.

The district attorney’s office said that it could comment on the details of the ongoing investigation.

“Our goal remains the same: to seek justice for Tyre Nichols and hold all who contributed to his death accountable. We ask for the public’s patience as the investigation continues,” the prosecutor said.

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A placard is seen during a protest after the death of Tyre Nichols, the Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. January 30, 2023. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer

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

A mourner takes part in a vigil for Tyre Nichols, the Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, at a skatepark in the North Natomas neighbourhood near where he grew up, in Sacramento, California, U.S. January 30, 2023. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

People take part in a protest after the death of Tyre Nichols, the Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. January 30, 2023. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer