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MPD Officer Preston Hemphill fired for "multiple department policy" violations in Tyre Nichols case

MPD said in a statement Friday evening that several other MPD officers are under investigation, and action on those will come "in the coming days."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police Officer Preston Hemphill, the sixth officer identified in the investigation into Tyre Nichols death, has been fired from the department, according to MPD. And more officers could face the same fate.

In a statement released Friday evening, MPD said: 

"After a review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we determined that Officer Preston violated multiple department policies. Officer Hemphill was departmentally charged and terminated from the Memphis Police Department for the following violations:

  1. Personal Conduct
  2. Truthfulness
  3. Compliance with Regulations to wit: Conducted Energy Weapon (TASER)
  4. Compliance with Regulations to wit:  Uniforms (issued equipment)
  5. Inventory and Processing Recovered Property"

The statement went on to say the administrative investigation is continuing and multiple MPD officers are under investigation for departmental policy violations. They said action on those officers will be made available in the coming days.

The Shelby County District Attorney's office released the following statement:

“We are in the stage of our investigation where we are looking into all matters including the actions of Officer Preston Hemphill and others who were on the scene.”

Hemphill was a detective with MPD's SCORPION Unit, and had worked with it since at least fall with the five previously fired MPD officers. 

Memphis Police said Monday that Hemphill and another unidentified officer were relieved of duty Jan. 8, pending the investigation, making them the sixth and seventh officers connected to the incident by MPD. 

The five fired officers are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

Three Memphis Fire Department employees have also been fired for violating MFD policies and protocols, but have not been charged. Two of those employees - both EMTS - had their licenses suspended Friday. Two Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies are also relieved of duty pending investigation, but not charged.

Preston Hemphill first joined the department in 2018. The delayed released of Hemphill’s identity, as well as the unreleased identity of the seventh officer in question, has brought up questions about the transparency of the ongoing investigation.

Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called for an outside review of the Memphis Police Department amid the investigation into Nichols’ death. 

What the video shows

Multiple recordings of MPD bodycam and skycam footage from the incident were released on Friday, Jan. 27. The footage shows video of the altercation that occurred between Nichols and several MPD officers that ultimately left Nichols dead three days later.

The first video shows the initial encounter, with Hemphill arriving at the scene of what MPD said was a traffic stop. He drives up, meeting the two other officers who pulled Nichols over at the scene. Hemphill is seen exiting his police car with his gun pulled as he walks towards Nichols and one of the officers.

Video shows Hemphill pulling Nichols out of his vehicle, then putting his gun away as he begins to assist the officer in forcing Nichols to the ground. The video shows a struggle between officers and Nichols, and at one point, it appears Hemphill is heard saying, "I'm fixing to tase you."

The video also shows the two officers pepper spray Nichols, then Hemphill deploys his taser while Nichols is on the ground. Nichols then gets up as he is being hit by the taser and runs away.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy's office confirmed to ABC News this week there is up to 20 hours of additional video footage in the case. And the City of Memphis’ Chief Legal Officer said earlier this week that a full release of audio and video footage of the confrontation between Nichols and Memphis Police could come “in the next few weeks.”   

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