A white officer present during Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating at the hands of Memphis police was put on administrative leave, Memphis Police confirmed Monday.
The Tennessee city is reeling over the fatal beating of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. The Memphis Police Department released the body camera footage of the tragedy on Friday, showing multiple officers were involved in his death.
Preston Hemphill is the sixth officer implicated in Nichols’s death, but the first white one. Memphis P.D. would not say how he was involved, local news outlets reported. Hemphill was hired in 2018, according to the department.
Administrative leave is when an employee “is asked to remain at home during regular work hours but continues to receive regular pay and benefits,” according to the University of Washington.
Five other officers were fired over Nichols’s death and charged with second-degree murder. All five men were Black.
Social media was already in uproar over Hemphill’s involvement after Amber Sherman, a Memphis-based policy analyst and activist, identified him as the officer who tased Nichols.
Sherman told The New Republic that the police affidavit for Nichols’ death was posted on Facebook. She already had the names of the officers in the Scorpion (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit, the armed unit that stopped Nichols, from research she was doing with a local nonprofit.
“I looked up the individual named person that had not already been charged and found their mom’s Facebook page. In a picture she posted, he was wearing the same Apple Watch and green band and that’s how I confirmed his identity as Preston Hemphill,” Sherman told TNR.
A local news channel reported Monday it had also identified Hemphill as the officer who tased Nichols. Sherman’s finding was picked up by The Tennessee Holler, an independent news organization that said Hemphill was also the officer who said, “I hope they stomp his ass” of Nichols.
This post has been updated.