March 23, 2023

The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said Monday that more charges could be filed as part of the “ongoing investigation” into the death of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died in Memphis three days after being beaten at a traffic stop on Jan. 7.

Five Memphis police officers involved in the case were fired on Jan. 20 and are now facing criminal charges including second-degree murder. Two other officers have also been relieved of duty as the investigation continues, the department said Monday.

“The current charges do not preclude us from adding additional charges as more information is presented,” the statement from the district attorney’s office said. “We are looking at all individuals involved in the events leading up to, during, and after the beating of Tyre Nichols.” This includes Memphis Fire Department personnel and “persons who participated in preparing documentation of the incident afterward,” the statement read.  

Video released on Friday, including footage from police body cameras and street surveillance cameras, shows officers pulling Nichols out of his car and beating, tasing and pepper spraying him.

Shortly after the footage was released, Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that two deputies who responded to the scene were “relieved of duty pending an investigation.” 

The Memphis Police Department said on Monday that in addition to the five officers charged, a sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, and a seventh whose name was not released, had been relieved of duty at the same time, on Jan. 8.

The Memphis Fire Department also said Monday that three members of the department, two first responders and a lieutenant, had been terminated after an internal investigation showed they had violated “numerous MFD policies and protocols” at the scene. The investigation concluded the two EMTs who responded “failed to conduct and adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols,” the Memphis Fire Department said in a statement. 

The five officers charged were members of the so-called SCORPION unit, a group created by the department to focus on fighting street crime. On Saturday, Memphis police announced that the SCORPION unit had been “permanently deactivated.” The unit had been “inactive” since the encounter with Nichols, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a news bulletin Jan. 27. 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that according to the Memphis Police Department, all seven officers were relieved of duty on Jan. 8, before the video was released.

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