A sixth police officer in Memphis, Tennessee, was relieved of his duties in connection with the Jan. 7 beating death of Tyre Nichols, officials said Monday.
A spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department told local newspaper The Commercial Appeal that Officer Preston Hemphill was placed on leave. Hemphill, who was hired in 2018, has been on leave since the beginning of the Nichols investigation, the spokesperson said.
Hemphill's leave marks the latest fallout from the MPD following Nichols' death. Body cam footage released by Memphis officials shows the 29-year-old African-American man being removed from his car following a traffic stop, at which point he was beaten repeatedly by five officers, who were also all African-American.
The beating appears to continue for several minutes despite Nichols' pleas for the officers to stop. He is also seen being pepper sprayed by at least one of the officers.
Nichols died three days after the beating. The five officers who were placed on leave were fired soon after, and they have all since been charged with murder in connection to Nichols' death. However, The New York Times noted that it is unclear what role Hemphill may have played in the incident.
Hemphill's attorney told the Times that his client "was never present at the second scene," and was cooperating with officials.
The MPD spokesperson also said that further details on Hemphill's role have not been released because he has not been fired.
Nichols' death has caused protests to erupt nationwide, and as The Wall Street Journal noted, "The fact that there is inadequate training and poor recruitment for police in many parts of the country is undeniable."