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More than a dozen Memphis fire and police personnel charged in beating of Tyre Nichols

More than a dozen Memphis fire and police department employees have been charged in connection with the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a city official said Tuesday at the conclusion of an investigation into Nichols’ January death.

Jennifer Sink, Memphis’ chief legal officer, said both agencies are conducting an administrative investigation to determine whether any employees violated department policies.

In a presentation before the Memphis City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Sink said that four Memphis Fire Department personnel had been charged.

Three employees were fired and one was suspended, Sink said. It is unclear what his exact allegations are. Sink said more information would be released on Wednesday, along with 20 hours of video and audio from the January 7 beating.

Tyr Nichols.
Tyr Nichols.Courtesy Ben Crump Law

The three evacuated employees were previously identified as EMTs Robert Long, Jaimichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker. The fire department said in a statement that they were found to have violated several department policies and protocols in response to Nichols.

The fourth employee has not been identified.

Sink said that 13 employees of the police department were also charged in the city’s investigation, although two ultimately had their charges dismissed.

According to Sink, seven of them were fired, three were suspended and one retired before the hearing.

One committee member questioned whether any of the officers who killed Nichols were still employed by the department. Sink said that one of the suspended officers “put his hands on” Nichols’ legs.

“But that was not a strike or an assault,” she said. “He received a suspension as a result of his involvement.”

Five police officers had previously been fired and criminally charged for their involvement in Nichols’ death. They are Taddeus Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They were all charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, two counts of kidnapping, one count of official harassment, and one count of aggravated assault.

Preston Hemphill and another unnamed officer were “relieved from duty.”

Police initially said they pulled over 29-year-old Nichols for reckless driving, but Police Chief Cerelin “CJ” Davis said her office had found no evidence to substantiate the claim. In a video released in January, police officers were seen pepper-spraying him, punching him, hitting him with a baton and kicking him in the face while he was taken into custody.

He was eventually taken to the hospital where he died three days later.

Lawyers for Nichols’ family said the beating was reminiscent of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. Ravanne Wells, Nichols’ mother, said her son was just trying to get home when police stopped him.

“He was two minutes from home when they stopped him,” she said during a January news conference. “He was less than 80 yards away when they killed him. Yes, I said murder… because when I got to that hospital room, my son was already dead.”



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