A sixth Memphis police officer has been "relieved of duty" for his involvement in the traffic stop that led to the death of 29-year-old Black man Tyre Nichols.
According to NBC News, Officer Preston Hemphill was the sixth law enforcement official implicated in the January 7 traffic stop where Memphis police fatally beat Nichols.
“Officer Hemphill is relieved of duty. This is an ongoing investigation. Once additional information is available, we will update our social media platforms. Hemphill was hired in 2018,” a department spokesperson said.
The news comes after five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — were fired earlier this month and charged last week with second-degree murder aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
All five officers were released on bond following their arrests on Thursday (January 29), according to jail records.
It's unclear what the sixth officer's role was in the incident that led to Nichols' death.
The Memphis Police Department initially said the officers pulled over Nichols for alleged reckless driving. "Confrontations" followed after Nichols fled the scene on foot, according to police.
He then complained of having shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital where he died three days after the stop on January 10.
Police footage released on Friday (January 27) shows officers brutally beating Nichols like a "piñata" and in a way comparable to the 1991 beating of Rodney King, lawyers and family members said.
Two Memphis Fire Department personnel were also "relieved of duty" amid an internal investigation into Nichols' death. Fire spokesperson Qwanesha Ward said they were "involved in the initial patient care" of Nichols but declined to give further details.
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