Ex-Memphis police officer who first stopped Tyre Nichols won't be charged

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Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Tuesday that Memphis Police officer Preston Hemphill won’t face charges in the beating death of Tyre Nichols (pictured). File Photo courtesy of Nichols family attorney Ben Crump/Instagram

May 2 (UPI) — Tennessee authorities said Tuesday they will not charge the former Memphis police officer who initially stopped motorist Tyre Nichols before he later was killed by other officers.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced the news Tuesday about former officer Preston Hemphill.

During the initial traffic stop of Nichols’ vehicle on Jan. 29, Hemphill discharged a Taser at Nichols, who then fled from the scene. Hemphill can be heard saying, “I hope they stomp his a**,” to a fellow officer on body camera footage.

At a second location where Hemphill was not present, five members of the elite Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods anti-gang unit, or SCORPION, pursued him before eventually beating him severely.

Nichols died in the hospital three days later.

The five MPD officers who beat Nichols were charged with second-degree murder in January.

In February, Hemphill was fired for violations of “multiple department policies.”

In a written statement about the police encounter, Hemphill said Nichols tried to grab his partner’s gun, but he later told investigators that Nichols had not gone for the weapon.

Body camera footage released by the city of Memphis also contradicted Hemphill’s initial statement.

Mulroy said Hemphill was cooperating with investigators and cautioned that the decision not to press charges did not amount to an endorsement of his actions.

“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer Hemphill at that first traffic stop,” said Mulroy. “In this case, Hemphill did not pursue Tyre Nichols and never left the initial scene.”

“We do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate,” said Mulroy.

According to Mulroy, Hemphill has been added to the Memphis Police Department’s Giglio list, a database of officers who have been shown untruthfulness and have been involved in incidents that call their character into question.

In April, Nichols’ family filed a $500 million lawsuit against the city of Memphis for negligence and excessive force.

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