More rot at the core of the police department in Memphis
A seventh white police officer and three other emergency personnel have also been disciplined in connection with the killing of Tyre Nichols at the hand of police. Concerns have been raised about why Memphis police took so long to identify the white police officer who beat Tyre Nichols to death.
Memphis police Major Karen Rudolph said on Monday that Preston Hemphill, a white cop, was assigned desk duty on January 8, a day after Black Nichols, who was assaulted by police 48 hours before he passed away.
On January 20, police named and fired five Black policemen; all have since been charged with murder in connection with the death of Nichols. However, they withheld Hemphill’s identity.
The special police unit named “Scorpion” who beat Nichols to death has since been disbanded. This unit seemed to be some kind of aggressive death squad from the looks of the video, and what seems to be common practice according to people close to the situation.
Ben Crump, the civil rights lawyer defending the family of Nichols, claimed on Tuesday that video evidence of the assault shows Hemphill dragging Nichols out of his car before shocking the 29-year-old with a Taser stun gun.
The Times piece continued: “While video footage supports the report’s account of Hemphill shocking Nichols, the kicks and punches that cops threw against Nichols was not mentioned at all.” Imagine that.
Requests for comment about the report, which attempted to paint Nichols as violent and combative despite videos of his death showing nothing even remotely close to that and instead contained horrifying images of him pleading for his mother’s assistance, went unanswered on Tuesday by Memphis police or Mulroy’s office.
Crump claims that the video, which includes footage from cop body cameras, also shows Hemphill telling coworkers present at the incident, “I hope they kick his ass.”
Crump berated Memphis police for holding off on naming Hemphill even though he hasn’t been fired or accused of a crime.
Why are his identify and his part in Tyre’s demise only now becoming known? stated Crump in a statement.
“We have urged the Memphis police department to be open with the family and the community from the outset; the news seems to show that they haven’t upped their game.”
It certainly raises the question of why the white cop who participated in this savage attack was hidden from view and has thus far escaped adequate punishment and accountability.
Hemphill and another unnamed officer were fired January 8 as police looked into the beating of Nichols, according to a statement released by Rudolph on Monday.
The actions of Officer Hemphill and the other officer have been the focus of this investigation and still are, according to Rudolph.
Rudolph claimed that the initial focus of the internal inquiry was on the five policemen who were present at the “second scene” where Nichols was abused. At the first scene, Nichols had been dragged from his automobile and had eluded a traffic stop.
According to Hemphill’s attorney Lee Gerald, Hemphill was not present when Nichols was attacked but was the third officer at the traffic check that came before the violent arrest.
The new material was released at the same time that fire department authorities announced the dismissal of Lt. Michelle Whitaker, Robert Long, and JaMicheal Sandridge as emergency medical technicians in connection with the death of Nichols.
Firefighters were called by police to come to aid of a person who had been pepper sprayed, according to the fire chief, Gina Sweat. When they arrived, Nichols was handcuffed and leaning against a squad car.
According to the statement, Long and Sandridge “failed to conduct an adequate patient evaluation of Mr. Nichols” based on the nature of the call and the information police provided them. Whitaker stayed inside the car with the driver.
According to an inquiry, all three of them had broken “several” rules and regulations, the statement stated.
News of the dismissal of the additional cops comes as pressure to reform American policing in the wake of Nichols’s passing has increased.
60 members of Congress have requested a meeting with the president this week in order to “push for negotiations on much-needed national reforms to our justice system, specifically the actions and conduct of our law enforcement.”
Joe Biden has urged Congress to enact police reforms, and the passing of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has increased pressure on elected authorities.
The legislation, which was created in response to Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, outlaws chokeholds, updates qualified immunity, which exempts police personnel from civil consequences for misconduct, and establishes national standards for policing.
In March 2021, the bill was approved by the US House, which was then under Democratic control, but it never advanced in the Senate. It is unclear whether the bill will advance now that the House is under Republican control.