The Memphis police department confirmed on Monday that a sixth officer has been taken off duty in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols.
Five officers were fired by the department earlier this month, soon after being placed on leave, and charged last week with second-degree murder in connection with Mr Nichols’s death. The sixth, Preston Hemphill, has been placed on administrative leave; it is not clear exactly what role he played in the encounter. A spokesman for the department confirmed on Monday that Mr Hemphill was placed on leave on the same day that the other officers were suspended.
Police officers kicked Mr Nichols in the head, pepper-sprayed him and hit him repeatedly with a baton after pulling him over, allegedly for reckless driving, on the night of January 7th, even as he showed no signs of fighting back on the videos of the incident released on Friday. Mr Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died in a hospital three days after the encounter.
Mr Hemphill’s lawyer, Lee Gerald, said in a statement that his client had activated his body camera in accordance with department regulations, and that one of the four videos of the encounter that were released by the city on Friday, labelled Video 1, came from Hemphill’s camera.
“He was never present at the second scene,” where officers caught up with Nichols on foot after he ran away from the initial traffic stop, Mr Gerald said, adding that his client “is co-operating with officials in this investigation.” – This article originally appeared in The New York Times.