Ex-MPD officer lied about Tyre Nichols’ reckless driving, mishandled evidence, documents show

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:23 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - New documents show the involvement of former Memphis police officer Preston Hemphill in Tyre Nichols’ traffic stop.

Hemphill was fired for his personal conduct during the night of Nichols’ death. Unlike the five other officers who were fired, Hemphill has not been charged criminally.

Hemphill was fired last Friday, the day MPD’s Inspectional Service Bureau held a hearing about rules the department says he violated.

A document filed by the Memphis Police Department requests for Hemphill to be decertified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST). Documents sent along with the request Action News 5 obtained reveal more about what Hemphill is accused of doing on Jan. 7.

Records show Hemphill applied to the Memphis Police Department (MPD) in February 2017 after attending the University of Memphis for about two semesters.

He began working for the department in June 2019 but failed a physical exam. Five months later he became a civilian employee, according to the documents.

In March 2020, he transferred into a law enforcement position.

Documents show Hemphill was disciplined twice for mishandling department equipment. He received a written reprimand in 2019 and another in 2022 that required him to take remedial driving.

He eventually became part of the since-disbanded SCORPION Unit.

On Jan. 7, investigators say Hemphill initially told them that Tyre Nichols was stopped for reckless driving at a high rate of speed, but then later told investigators he didn’t actually see Nichols driving recklessly.

He also said Nichols began fighting with officers after he was stopped and tried to grab his partner’s gun.

Video evidence shows this did not happen.

Investigators say Hemphill violated the department’s truthfulness policy.

Hemphill used a Taser on Nichols as he was fleeing in oncoming traffic, and the documents show he failed to retrieve a part of the Taser that was missing.

Both actions are against MPD’s compliance with regulations policy.

Hemphill is also heard on body camera footage using foul language, including “I hope they stomp his a**,” after Nichols fled.

Investigators say Nichols showed no sign of violence toward Hemphill and say the former officer’s behavior at the scene violated MPD’s personal conduct policy.

Documents also show Hemphill did not collect and tag a cell phone found in Nichols’ car.

The car and evidence were eventually towed to the city’s impound lot. This violated MPD’s inventory and processing recovered property policy.

Documents show he also violated compliance with regulations policy by using personal handcuffs.

Investigators say Hemphill had the chance to change his initial statement to investigators, but did not. He also declined to give a statement at his hearing with MPD on the day he was terminated.

The Memphis Police Association, however, did give a statement at Hemphill’s hearing and said they objected to having a hearing before the conclusion of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s investigation.

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