Three employees of the Memphis Fire Department have been fired after an internal investigation found they “violated numerous MFD Policies and Protocols” in responding to Tyre Nichols’ deadly arrest after a traffic stop on Jan. 7, the department said in a statement Monday.
The employees are two emergency medical technicians and a lieutenant assigned to drive a Memphis Fire Department vehicle to the scene of Nichols’ arrest. Five Memphis police officer were fired Jan. 20 for their involvement in the arrest of the 29-year-old Black man and have been charged in his death.
Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge, the two EMTs who responded to the call about Nichols being pepper-sprayed, “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment” of Nichols, the department said in its statement.
Long and Sandridge arrived at the scene when Nichols was handcuffed and on the ground. Michelle Whitaker, the lieutenant, drove the department’s vehicle but remained inside, the department said.
“Their actions or inactions on the scene that night do not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department and are not reflective of the outstanding service the men and women of the Memphis Fire Department provide daily in our community,” the department said in its statement.
The MFD firings came simultaneously as Memphis police announced two suspensions of police officers that were not made public until Monday.
Preston Hemphill, who was employed by the department in 2018, was suspended pending an investigation. Another officer was suspended as well, but officers did not give his name.
Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies were also suspended, but neither officer was identified.
Nichols was confirmed dead three days after he was arrested and beaten by multiple officers after he fled an earlier arrest attempt.
Officers initially approached Nichols, who was inside his car at a traffic light. Police said that Nichols was stopped for reckless driving, but body-camera footage did not match a police report released Jan. 8.
The five officers who were fired ― Desmond Mills, Justin Smith, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley and Emmitt Martin ― were all seen on camera shouting obscenities at Nichols as they punched and tased him and dragged him out of his car. All five are Black men.
Nichols ran away and was just 800 feet from his parents’ home when the officers caught him again and took turns punching and beating him multiple times.
Nichols’ family released a photo showing his disfigured face as he lay on a hospital bed.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy charged the five officers with second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault and several other charges.
Hemphill, MFD employees, the sheriff’s deputies and the other unidentified Memphis police officer have not been criminally charged.
The district attorney’s office stated they are investigating everyone involved in Nichols’ deadly arrest.
“The current charges do not preclude us from adding additional charges as more information is presented. We are looking at all individuals involved in the events leading up to, during, and after the beating of Tyre Nichols. This includes the officer present at the initial encounter who has not— so far—been charged, Memphis Fire Department personnel, and persons who participated in preparing documentation of the incident afterward,” a statement from the district attorney’s office said.
“The DA’s Office worked extraordinarily swiftly but thoroughly to charge those whose offenses were plain and clear and directly contributed to the death of Mr. Nichols, but in no way is this investigation over.”