Jan. 30 (UPI) — Memphis Police confirmed Monday that a sixth officer has been relieved of duty in connection with a traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols earlier this month.
The department said Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty as part of its investigation into Nichols’ death, in which five of Hemphill’s colleagues have been fired and charged with murder. Hemphill was seen in a video firing a stun gun at Nichols.
Lee Gerald, an attorney representing Hemphill, confirmed that his client was the third officer at the scene of the initial stop of Nichols.
“As per departmental regulations, Officer Hemphill activated his bodycam. He was never present at the second scene. He is cooperating with officials in this investigation,” Gerald said in a statement to NBC News.
Hemphill, who is White, has not been fired or charged. He could be heard on his body camera video saying twice that he hoped officers would “stomp” Nichols.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were fired Jan. 20 after authorities determined they violated department policy. They were charged with multiple crimes, including second-degree murder and kidnapping, and taken into custody on Thursday.
Footage from the Skycop security camera that captured the encounter with Nichols from above shows several officers kicking and punching Nichols. At one point, the officers pick up Nichols and continue to strike him. One officer is seen striking him with a baton.
He died three days later from the injuries.
Nichols’ death and video of his beating sparked protests around the country.
Memphis’ Teamsters Local 667 issued a statement Monday supporting Nichols and his family. Martin Luther King Jr. came to town to support striking sanitation workers in 1968 before he was killed.
“Teamsters Local 667 stands in solidary with the family of Tyre Nichols and those who will continue to pick up the banner of progress and reform,” the statement said. “We will continue to work together to make our city a better place.
“A place where all people are safe and secure. We remember Dr. King’s words that still ring true today: ‘Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.'”