DA will not charge ex-Memphis police officer involved in Tyre Nichols stop


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By Marlene Lenthang, NBC News

“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer [Preston] Hemphill at that first traffic stop,” the Shelby County district attorney said. “But we do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate.”

Officer Preston Hemphill was terminated for several violations that included using a Taser, the Memphis Police Department said in February.
Memphis Police Dept via Twitter

No criminal charges will be brought against a Memphis police officer who was fired for his involvement in the traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols, the Shelby County district attorney said Tuesday.

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was brutally assaulted after he was pulled over Jan. 7 for alleged reckless driving and died three days later. On Tuesday, Shelby County DA Steve Mulroy shared an update regarding the investigation into Nichols’ death, explaining why criminal charges against former Memphis Police Officer Preston Hemphill were not warranted.

Hemphill was at the scene of the traffic stop, but was never present at the later scene where Nichols was seen on video being punched and struck with a baton, the prosecutor said.

“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer Hemphill at that first traffic stop,” Mulroy said. “But we do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate.”

Tyre Nichols

He added that officials reviewed hours of body camera footage and conducted hours of interviews with the officer, who fired a stun gun at Nichols as he was running away from the initial traffic stop.

Hemphill was terminated for several violations that included using a Taser, police said in February.

On Tuesday, Mulroy said that in reviewing and analyzing body camera footage, Hemphill was trying to deploy the stun gun “because he saw Nichols was not fleeing towards the neighborhood, but was in fact heading towards an open car door of a police cruiser.”

“That had to bear weight on our evaluation of his decision,” he said.

“As we prepared a defense for what we thought might be pending charges, in our investigation we discovered evidence that Officer Hemphill did not violate Tennessee or federal law,” he said. “In fact, the evidence we discovered and presented to the DA’s trial team was that Officer Hemphill at the first scene actually on more than one occasion attempted to de-escalate the confrontation.”

Hemphill will continue to cooperate in the investigation and “maintain his oath to enforce the laws of Tennessee and the U.S. Constitution,” Gerald said. However, it was unclear if Hemphill plans to seek reinstatement as an officer….

Videos of the police stop and beating of Nichols shocked and horrified people across the nation. FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “appalled,” and President Joe Biden said he was outraged and he called the video horrific.

Click here to read the whole article and see additional context

To find out more about the tragic death of Tyre Nichols, Click here

Visit the exhibit John Carter: A Scapegoat for Anger to understand how Tyre’s death is but an echo of our past.

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