Sixth Memphis Police Officer Involved in Tyre Nichols Confrontation Relieved of Duty: Reports

Preston Hemphil has been relieved of duty from the Memphis Police Department and is under investigation, according to multiple reports

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Adrian Sainz/AP/Shutterstock (13721810a) Portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7 Police Force Investigation, Memphis, United States - 17 Jan 2023
Tyre Nichols. Photo: Adrian Sainz/AP/Shutterstock

Content warning: This article contains disturbing descriptions of violence.

A sixth officer who was involved in the confrontation with 29-year-old Tyre Nichols has been relieved of duty from the Memphis Police Department, according to multiple reports.

Fox 13 Memphis reports that Preston Hemphil, who is white, is the officer who has been relieved of duty — which is different from being fired — but it is unclear what led to Hemphil's relief of duty or if he will be charged in connection with Nichols' beating and subsequent death.

Preston Hemphill
Preston Hemphill. Memphis Police Department

The Memphis Police Department said Hemphil is under investigation and new information will be released as it becomes available, WREG reports. Hemphil's role in the incident was not disclosed.

Five now-fired Memphis officers, who are Black — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — have been charged in connection with Nichols' death.

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They were charged last week with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and multiple counts of official misconduct and official oppression in connection with Nichols' death, according to online Shelby County Jail records reviewed by PEOPLE. They have since been released on bond.

This combo of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows, from left, officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.
From left, officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith. Memphis Police Department (4)

Nichols was pulled over for alleged reckless driving on Jan. 7 around 8:30 p.m., and following the traffic stop, Memphis police say Nichols fled on foot and more than one "confrontation" ensued.

In disturbing video footage released on Friday, multiple officers are seen beating Nichols for approximately three minutes. When he collapses to the ground, officers continue punching him in the head. Officers also used a taser and pepper spray on Nichols. After the fight, Nichols is slumped against a vehicle. He was transported to the hospital and died three days later.

A statement from Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, two attorneys representing Nichols' family, says a preliminary autopsy shows he experienced "extensive bleeding." The statement also says police "brutalized him to the point he was unrecognizable."

During a Friday press conference, Crump said that during the police encounter, Nichols cried out for his mother.

"He calls out three times for his mother, his last words on this earth are 'Mom, Mom, Mom,' he's screaming for her," said Crump. "He said, 'I just wanna go home.' "

Nichols' mother said during the press conference that she has not watched the footage.

"But what I've heard is very horrific, very horrific and any of you who have children please don't let them see it," she said.

A GoFundMe created by Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, has surpassed $1 million dollars.

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