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Sixth officer is suspended in Tyre Nichols death investigation

Jan. 30, 2023 Updated Mon., Jan. 30, 2023 at 12:29 p.m.

By Maham Javaid and Mark Berman Washington Post

A sixth Memphis police officer “has been relieved of duty” during the investigation of Tyre Nichols’s beating.

“Officer Preston Hemphill has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the administrative investigation,” the police department told The Washington Post late Monday morning. “Officer Hemphill was hired in 2018.”

Nichols, 29, died three days after the Jan. 7 beating.

Videos of the beating were released last week, leading to protests and a national spotlight on Memphis police.

While five officers have been fired and charged in Nichols’s death, Memphis police have also suggested that more fallout was possible for others within the department.

Cerelyn Davis, the police chief, said last week in a video statement that the five fired officers were the ones “directly responsible for the physical abuse.”

But, she added, other officers within the Memphis police were being investigated for “department policy violations.” Davis did not elaborate on the policies involved, nor specify the number of officers.

The Memphis Police Department’s internal policies and procedures note that its treatment of officers being investigated can vary, ranging from continuing in their normal duty to being relieved of all duties.

The department’s internal policies note that being removed from duty does not automatically suggest wrongdoing, and that it “should not be associated with a negative connotation.”

Pulling an officer from duty, the policies state, can be part of “a normal investigative process to prove or disprove an allegation.”

In addition to Memphis police officers being investigated, Nichols’s death has led to other local authorities being scrutinized by their own agencies.

The sheriff in Shelby County, Tenn., which includes Memphis, said two of his deputies were relieved of duty amid an internal investigation, citing “concerns” after they “appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols.”

The Memphis Fire Department has also said it pulled two personnel from duty in response to the case and launched an internal investigation.

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