A sixth Memphis police officer has been suspended following the violent police interaction and death of Tyre Nichols. The Memphis Police Department confirmed the suspension on Monday.

Five officers were let go from the department earlier this month. All five were charged with second-degree murder last week. Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer enmeshed in the violence that killed Nichols – his role in the interaction is unknown.

Memphis police confirmed that Hemphill was suspended at the same time as the other officers.

Nichols was pulled over on his way home on January 7 after police alleged they saw him driving recklessly.


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According to a recently released near-hour-long video, police continually escalated the interaction with Nichols. Officers repeatedly beat Nichols on the head, pepper sprayed him and hit him with a baton – all despite Nichols not showing aggressive moves toward the officers.

Nichols, a 29-year-old black male, lost consciousness which was never regained. He died in the hospital three days later.

Nichols can be heard on the videos asking his mother for help. Her house was only a few yards away.

“No mother, no mother, no mother, should go through what I’m going through right now. No mother [should] lose their child the violent way I lost my child,” RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, said at a press conference.

The five officers charged with Nichol’s death – Emmit Martin IIIJustin SmithTadarrius BeanDemetrius Haley and Desmond Mills – were all part of the “Scorpion” unit. The 50-member team was considered highly trained and was tasked with bringing down crime in Memphis. The task force was disbanded following Nichol’s death.

“The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step,” the Memphis police said in a statement. “While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department, take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted.”

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