Officials stated on Monday that the death of Tyre Nichols has resulted in an expanded range of consequences for the disturbing instance of police brutality. This comes after a video revealed that several individuals, aside from the five officers accused of fatally beating him, neglected to provide assistance. As a result, two additional Memphis police officers have faced disciplinary actions, while three emergency responders have been terminated due to their involvement.
The police department announced that Officer Preston Hemphill, a white officer, was discharged from duty soon after Nichols’ arrest on January 7th. Another officer involved in the incident was also relieved, although their identity and role were not disclosed at the time, but later in the day it was revealed.
The total number of Memphis officers who were disciplined, including five Black officers, were charged last week with second-degree murder and other offenses in connection with the beating of Nichols and his death on Jan. 10.
The officials of the Memphis Fire Department announced the dismissal of JaMichael Sandridge and Robert Long, who were medical emergency technicians. It was also revealed that Michelle Whitaker, an EMT Lieutenant, had previously been suspended.
Stated in an official declaration, Fire Chief Gina Sweat mentioned that the fire department was contacted by the police to attend to a complaint about an individual who had been subjected to pepper spray. The declaration indicated that the personnel reached the scene at 8:41 p.M. While Nichols was restrained with handcuffs, lying on the ground and leaning against a police vehicle.
According to the statement, Long and Sandridge, relying on the type of the call and details provided by the police, “did not perform a sufficient evaluation of Mr. Nichols as a patient.” The driver and Whitaker stayed in the engine.
Officials stated that Long, Sandridge, and Whitaker arrived 27 minutes prior to the arrival of an emergency unit that provided care for Nichols. They then departed for a hospital with him at 9:08 p.M. According to the statement, an ambulance was summoned and it reached the location at 8:55 p.M.
An investigation has determined that the actions or inactions of the Memphis Fire Department on the night scene did not meet the expectations of the statement, and that they violated three protocols and policies “multiple” times.
The excessive use of violence by police officers towards Black citizens, regardless of the race of both parties involved, has sparked days of public discourse surrounding the death of Nichols, an individual of Black ethnicity.
Nichols is heard saying, “I hope they defeat him,” while Hemphill is stunned upon hearing this declaration in the initial footage captured by the body camera.
The latest example in a long string of early police accounts regarding the use of force showed that encounters, which were deadly and sometimes violent, were ignored or downplayed.
During the nighttime arrest of 29-year-old father Nichols, who was pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving, video footage shows him sitting helplessly on the pavement, struggling with his injuries. His mother can be heard calling out for him as he is seen being pummeled by the officers, who used their fists, a baton, and a stun gun. This incident occurred as Nichols was running away from his house towards the officers from the Memphis Police Department.
Other authorities were present at the scene, but Deputy Sheriffs Nichols and Shelby County remained on the ground for several minutes, milling around and chatting with five other officers, while their conduct was being investigated despite being relieved of their duties.
The law enforcement agency has been accountable for internal disciplinary actions, such as terminations, in the Nichols case, while the district attorney of Shelby County has dealt with the criminal accusations.
Lawyer Lee Gerald stated that Hemphill activated his body camera, in accordance with the department’s regulations. Hemphill was the third officer present during the traffic stop that occurred before the aggressive arrest, but he was not present at the location where Nichols was assaulted.
The lawyers for Nichols’ family questioned why the department did not disclose Hemphill’s earlier discipline and why he has not been charged or fired.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Anthony Romanucci expressed in a statement, “It definitely raises the question as to why the Caucasian officer implicated in this vicious assault was safeguarded and shielded from public scrutiny, and thus far, from appropriate punishment and responsibility.” “Right from the start, we have requested the Memphis Police Department to be open and honest with the family and the community — this information appears to suggest that they have not met the challenge.”
The Memphis police spokeswoman, Rudolph, stated that Hemphill was not immediately fired because the department generally does not release information about disciplinary actions taken against officers until a thorough investigation into misconduct is conducted.
The lack of supervision was a major problem in this incident, as CJ Davis, the Director of the Memphis Police Department, told the Associated Press in an interview on Friday.
Davis stated, “There should be at least one supervisor for every squad or group of people, especially when officers are working. It is not just someone who is doing paperwork in the office, but someone who is actually embedded in the unit.”
The video released in Memphis has sparked peaceful protests from community activists, lawyers, and the Nichols family. There have been persistent and vocal calls for more officers to be charged or held accountable. The video was powerful and reminiscent of George Floyd’s arrest in 2020, highlighting the failure of the officers to intervene.
According to The Associated Press, on Saturday, Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, informed the family to persist in pursuing justice and to ensure the arrest of additional officers.
Wells stated, “the video was made public prior to any inquiries being made, and I was the one who raised those inquiries.” “There were around six or five officers present, but the main participants charged with murder were the officers. Now, the other six or five officers who were also present are equally responsible. They are just as culpable as the officers who threw the punches.”
Martavius Jones, a representative of the Memphis City Council, declared on Monday that it appeared as though the law enforcement had violated their protocols concerning offering aid and alleviating strain.
Jones remarked, “When we all watched the video, we saw that Mr. Nichols is in a state of complete distress, surrounded by multiple police officers standing around him.”
Jones stated that he is of the opinion that additional officers should face disciplinary action.
Jones stated, “the whole duration the incident at were officers only wasn’t that is aware and recording the observed has everybody that now officers other those with deals chief police the quickly how observe to is community this for beneficial be to going what’s point this At”.
The chief of police, Davis, said that the Scorpion unit, which targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas, has been disbanded. As a result, Hemphill and five officers were fired.
The funeral service for Nichols is planned for Wednesday at a church in Memphis.