MEMPHIS — The Memphis Police Department confirmed on Monday that a sixth officer had 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 officer, 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, purportedly for reckless driving, on the night of Jan. 7, 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.
Officer Hemphill’s lawyer, Lee Gerald, said in a statement that one of the four videos of the encounter that were released by the city on Friday, labeled Video 1, came from Officer Hemphill’s body camera.
“He was never present at the second scene,” where officers caught up with Mr. Nichols after a brief foot chase and beat him severely, Mr. Gerald said of Officer Hemphill. He added that his client “is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”
Others involved in the Jan. 7 encounter have also been taken off duty. The Memphis Fire Department suspended two of its emergency medical technicians who treated Mr. Nichols, a spokeswoman for the department, Qwanesha Ward, said on Friday, adding that an investigation into their actions was expected to be completed this week.
And two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies have been relieved of duty pending an investigation into their involvement in the encounter, Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said on Friday night.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.