White Cop Who Wanted Colleagues to ‘Stomp’ Tyre Nichols Is Suspended

Memphis Police Department via Facebook
Memphis Police Department via Facebook

A white Memphis cop involved in the fatal arrest of Tyre Nichols, who was allegedly caught on body-cam saying he hoped other officers would “stomp his ass,” has been relieved of duty, authorities said Monday.

Memphis police told the Associated Press that Preston Hemphill, 26, was “relieved of duty” shortly after the Jan. 7 traffic stop, but his name wasn’t made public until Monday.

He is the sixth Memphis officer to be punished for the traffic stop that led to a brutal beating and the eventual death of Nichols. The department also revealed Monday that it had relieved a seventh, unnamed officer from duty immediately following the incident.

Unlike the five Black officers who were fired shortly after the incident, Hemphill and the unnamed officer are not facing murder charges.

Three EMTs—Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker—were also fired Monday for their “actions or inactions” when called to render aid to Nichols, Memphis Fire and Rescue announced.

Hemphill featured in a photo on the PD’s Facebook page last July when he completed 40 hours of mental illness training to join the force’s Crisis Intervention Team.


In a statement, Nichols family attorney Ben Crump said it was Hemphill who violently pulled Nichols from his car while striking him with a taser during an initial traffic stop—something clearly captured by body-cam footage released by authorities on Friday night.

In another body-cam clip, an officer—identified by Crump as Hemphill—is heard yelling, “I hope they stomp his ass” after Nichols escaped and ran from officers who were beating him.

Crump said Nichols’ family is disappointed by Hemphill’s seemingly paltry punishment, saying he should’ve been fired and it shouldn’t have taken three weeks for Memphis PD to release his name.

“It certainly begs the question why the white officer involved in this brutal attack was shielded and protected from the public eye, and to date, from sufficient discipline and accountability,” Crump wrote in a statement. “The Memphis Police Department owes us all answers.”

Memphis police have not confirmed if it was Hemphill who made the “stomp” comment or what specific actions led to him being relieved from duty. Multiple emails and calls to the department were not returned on Monday.

Hemphill’s lawyer, Lee Gerald, confirmed in a statement to The Daily Beast that his client was involved in the initial encounter with Nichols before he fled.

“He was never present at the second scene,” Gerald said. “He is cooperating with officials in this investigation.”

Gerald said Hemphill activated his body-cam and his footage was “Video 1” in the series of four horrifying videos released Friday evening by Memphis officials.

That clip, nearly six minutes long, appears to show Hemphill pin down Nichols while shouting commands at him.

Warning: Graphic footage below

Parts of the video are obscured because Hemphill was too close to Nichols to record what was happening, but expletives were bleeped dozens of times in the clip.

After a brief struggle, the video showed Hemphill unsuccessfully deploying his Taser at Nichols as he breaks free and runs away.

Hemphill is heard saying he “can’t see jack s---” because his glasses were knocked off in the struggle. He didn’t pursue Nichols for long after he ran down the street, instead tending to a second officer who injured his eyes.

Five of Hemphill’s former colleagues—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith—were fired shortly after Nichols’ death and charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression. They were part of a specialized anti-crime unit that supposedly required additional training and mandatory experience minimums.

Memphis’ Police Chief Cerelyn Davis launched the unit—nicknamed SCORPION for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods—a few months after taking the job in 2021 to get “tough on tough people,” she said then, the same month rapper Young Dolph was killed in the city.

The unit was to act as a “strike team” in vulnerable parts of Memphis, which quickly drew criticism from residents who described its officers’ actions as heavy-handed, the New York Times reported.

Davis has since axed the program entirely in light of Nichols’ killing, which she described as “heinous” and “inhumane.”

Hemphill joins two Shelby County deputies to be be placed on leave over the beating. Fire officials in Memphis said an internal investigation found that those who responded to aid Nichols—Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker—violated numerous policies and protocols, leading to their firing.

“Their actions or inactions on the scene that night do not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department,” the department said in a release, adding they’re “not reflective of the outstanding service the men and women of the Memphis Fire department provide daily in our community.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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