Memphis ex-officer Preston Hemphill won’t be charged in Tyre Nichols death, DA says

Former Memphis police officer Preston Hemphill won’t be charged in relation to Tyre Nichols’ death, the district attorney said.

Preston Hemphill was among a group of police officers involved in a confrontation after Tyre Nichols was pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving on Jan. 7, dragged from his car and beaten. Hemphill’s body camera footage shows him firing his Taser at a running Nichols, but he does not appear in other footage that shows five officers beating Nichols.

While a number of hours of footage have not been released, Hemphill was among the officers fired shortly after Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died on Jan. 10.

Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy said Tuesday that Hemphill would not be charged, after reviewing “hours and hours of body-worn camera footage” and conducting witness interviews.

“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer Hemphill at that first traffic stop,” Mulroy said. “But we do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate.”

He added that Hemphill wasn’t seen in the footage of Nichols’ beating because he was no longer on the scene, which also contributed to the decision to forgo charging the ex-cop.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Nichols’ family, said Nichols’ parents, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, supported the decision.

“We understand that this individual has been fully cooperating with the investigation and has promised to provide substantial cooperation going forward,” the statement read. “In light of this, we are supportive of no charges for this individual. It is our deepest hope and expectation that justice will be served fully, and that all who had a role to play in this senseless tragedy will be held accountable.”

Hemphill is expected to testify against former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith, who have been charged with second-degree murder and kidnapping charges.

Dewayne Smith, the supervising officer on duty at the time of the incident, retired rather than be fired. Smith and an unnamed officer who was also relieved of duty have not been charged.

Mulroy added that the decision not to charge Hemphill was not part of any plea deal or agreement to testify.