Memphis, TN

3 Firefighters have been fired and 2 additional Memphis cops have been placed on leave.

Sherif Saad
Police OfficersPhoto bySean LeeonUnsplash

( CNN ) - As a result of the fatal police beating of black motorist Tyre Nichols, three Memphis Fire Department employees have been fired, and it has been revealed that a total of seven police officers have been placed on leave. Critics around the country have called for police reform.

In reaction to Nichols' January 7 contact with members of a now-disbanded police department unit, two emergency medical technicians and a fire department lieutenant have been fired, according to Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat.

Police stopped Nichols on what they first said was a reckless driving accusation. Police body cameras and surveillance footage reveal that after being hauled out of his car by cops, who also used pepper spray and a Taser to try to make him fall to the ground, the man fled.

Minutes later, officers caught up with him at a different place and repeatedly struck or kicked him.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, he passed away from his wounds three days later. The assault has increased public criticism of US police use of force, particularly when it comes to individuals of color.

Fire Lt. Michelle Whitaker, emergency medical technicians Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge, and the fire department all received termination letters on Monday.

According to an inquiry, the two EMTs who responded to the first call, in which they heard someone had been pepper sprayed, and information they were given at the site, "failed to complete a proper patient evaluation of Mr. Nichols," Sweat said in a press release.

The statement made by the chief indicated that Whitaker had stayed in the fire vehicle. The two EMTs were suspended pending an internal investigation, the fire department announced earlier this month.

When the EMT truck arrived at the second incident at around 8:41 p.m., it saw Nichols lying on the ground, leaning against a police car.

The truck then called for an ambulance at 8:46 p.m., according to the fire department. According to the fire department, the ambulance came at 8:55 p.m. and left with Nichols 13 minutes later.

According to pole-camera footage made public on Friday, between the time the EMTs and the ambulance arrived, first responders continually backed away from Nichols as he was occasionally toppling over onto his side.
PolicePhoto byPhil HearingonUnsplash

According to pole-camera footage made public on Friday, between the time the EMTs and the ambulance arrived, first responders continually backed away from Nichols as he was occasionally toppling over onto his side.

Additionally, on Monday, the police department disclosed that two additional officers—seven in total—had been placed on leave the day following the incident.

Five of the officers—all of whom are black—were fired on January 20 and were charged last week with several counts of second-degree murder.

A sixth and a seventh officer, who are still targets of an internal investigation, were placed on leave with the other five on January 8, according to Memphis police.

One of the two cops, Preston Hemphill, who is white, was identified by the police on Monday. According to the police, he has been on administrative leave ever since the inquiry got underway.

Kimberly Elder, a spokeswoman for the Memphis Police Department, refused to confirm Hemphill's income.

The first traffic stop and the beating at the second location were both captured on surveillance film by pole cameras and body cameras, which the city published on Friday.

In one of the videos from the body camera, Hemphill can be heard saying, "One of those prongs struck the guy," after firing a Taser at Nichols at the scene of the first traffic stop.

Hemphill later tells a different policeman, "I hope they stomp his ass." The second location, where the county's district attorney claims Nichols was pummeling and sustained his critical injuries, is not depicted in that body-cam footage by Hemphill.

Hemphill isn't facing any charges. Hemphill has been working with the inquiry, according to his attorney Lee Gerald, and "he was never there at the second scene" that led to the beating.

The identity of the seventh officer has not been made public. Attorneys for the Nichols family question why Hemphill's involvement in the incident was mostly kept under wraps while authorities swiftly fired five black police officers and charged them with murder.
firefightersPhoto byJay HeikeonUnsplash

"It is very upsetting to learn today from Memphis officials that Officer Preston Hemphill was apparently dismissed from duty weeks ago but hasn't yet been fired or prosecuted."

"Why is it now becoming known who he is and what part he played in Tyre's demise?" said lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci in a statement on Monday.

It raises the question of why the white cop who was involved in this vicious attack was hidden from view.

Romanucci later stated on CNN that the "huge failure of the institution that we're supposed to trust" is just unfathomable. The Nichols family is attempting to process everything.

Numerous doubts still exist weeks after Nichols' passing. Whether other cops will face prosecution or other punishment is one of them. Frank Colvett, a member of the Memphis City Council, asked on Sunday why more police who were present when Nichols was beaten had not received warnings or suspensions.

Hemphill is being investigated by Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy's office, Mulroy told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.

"That includes staff from the fire department and those who completed documentation related to the interaction," he continued. "Everything is being considered." "But we must beg for tolerance," he continued.

How the police chief of Memphis will fare Although Chief Davis' quick response in the matter has received acclaim from some, she also founded the contentious Scorpion Squad, which the accused cops were associated with.

The police force and the leadership will face consequences, according to Colvett. She will have to account not just to the council but also to the people in general and the entire planet.

What happens to the sheriff's staff? Last Thursday, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office placed two deputies on leave pending an investigation.

If Nichols' passing results in widespread police reform: To encourage talks on police reform, the Congressional Black Caucus has requested a meeting with President Joe Biden this week.

What is captured on camera?

It's terrible to see the fateful encounter's video. Following a traffic stop, Nichols is repeatedly struck by cops with batons, punched, and kicked, while at one point having his wrists tied behind his back.

As he was being kicked and pepper sprayed, Nichols was heard pleading with his mother. One of the lawyers defending the Nichols family, Crump, claimed that "all of these policemen breached their oath."

"They broke their promise to uphold and serve," mourners said. Mourners erected a temporary monument at the residential street corner where Nichols was beaten.

Following the release of the films, demonstrators took to the streets throughout the nation, in places including New York, Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles. His family recalled Nichols as a decent father and son who loved skating, photography, and sunsets.
PolicePhoto byGabe PierceonUnsplash

They lamented the moments they will never experience again as they remembered his smile and embraces.

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin, and Desmond Mills Jr., the five terminated cops accused of assaulting Nichols, are scheduled to be arraigned on February 17.

Mills Jr. was a "victim" of the system he operated within and didn't violate any limits "that others crossed" during the altercation with Nichols, according to his lawyer, Blake Ballin, who spoke to CNN.

No one out there that night "planned for Tyre Nichols to die," said William Massey, Martin's attorney. Requests for responses from the lawyers representing the other former officers were not immediately fulfilled.

The people of Memphis and Nichols' family "deserve to hear the whole narrative of the circumstances leading up to his death and what may have contributed to it," the Memphis Police Association said in a statement. The union declined to comment more on the terminations.

Each of the five fired officers is charged with seven offenses, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping in possession of a deadly weapon, official misconduct, and official oppression, according to the Shelby County district attorney's office.

Alexis Hoag-Fordjour, an assistant professor of law and co-director of the Center for Criminal Justice at Brooklyn Law School, said that a second-degree murder allegation, which calls for proof of intent to kill, may be more difficult to prove than a first-degree felony murder accusation.

Hoag-Fordjour noted that she practiced law in Tennessee. "For first-degree felony murder, that indicates that a murder occurred in combination with an underlying offense," she stated.

"In this case, every single allegation that the Memphis district attorney brought against these five people was a felony." Kidnapping is the primary offense that would justify a first-degree murder accusation, also known as felony murder.

The fact that cops are accused of abduction may seem surprising given that, according to Hoag-Fordjour, "we deputize law enforcement agents to undertake seizures and to make arrests." But at this moment, what had been acceptable conduct went too far and became illegal.

Hoag-Fordjour argued that although second-degree murder verdicts are still feasible, first-degree felony murder charges may be simpler to establish.

According to Hoag-Fordjour, a person may be found guilty of second-degree murder in Tennessee if they had a reasonable assurance that their conduct would cause someone's death.

Unit of SCORPION connected to fatal assault is terminated

According to Memphis police spokesman Maj. Karen Rudolph on Saturday, the five terminated officers involved in Nichols' beating were members of the now-disbanded scorpion (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) squad.

Hemphill was a part of the Scorpion squad, a person familiar with his duties told CNN. Hemphill is one of the officers who are currently on administrative leave. It is unknown to the authorities if the seventh officer relieved of duty was a part of the unit.

The team was established in 2021 and dispatched policemen to places where the police were monitoring increases in violent crime.

Crump stated, "We believe that the horrible conduct we observed in that video was part of the ethos of the Scorpion unit." He continued, "Before we see something like this happen again, we ordered that they dissolve immediately."

Tyre Nichols' death was caused by the culture as much as it was by the police. The squad will be permanently shut down by Memphis police.

The Memphis Police Department declared: "While the terrible deeds of a few shed a veil of disgrace on the title of a scorpion, it is vital that we take proactive measures in the healing process for those touched." Colvett agreed that the Scorpion unit should be dismantled.

The council member remarked, "I think shutting it down was the right thing to do, and the mayor is correct." "The Memphis Police Department is not characterized by these types of activities."

Growing calls for police reform

Tyre Nichols' violent beating constituted murder, and it serves as a sobering reminder that there is still much work to be done to address systematic police brutality in America, according to a statement released on Sunday by Rep. Steven Horsford, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
firefightersPhoto byMatt ConUnsplash

The head of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP praised Davis for "doing the right thing" by firing the cops who beat Tyre Nichols immediately rather than waiting six to twelve months.

Gloria Sweet-Love, though, had harsher words for Congress: "You're writing another black man's tombstone by failing to draught and pass measures to end police violence," she said.

"You are responsible for the blood of black Americans." So get up and do action. Two Democratic state legislators declared their intention to introduce police reform legislation before the general assembly's Tuesday deadline.

According to Tennessee state representative G.A. Hardaway, who represents a portion of Memphis and Shelby County, the proposals would aim to address hiring, training, punishment procedures, and mental health treatment for police enforcement employees, among other things.

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