On Tuesday (April 2), Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced that his office declined to pursue charges against Preston Hemphill, a white officer who was fired over his confrontation with Nichols, which occurred before he was beaten by five other law enforcement officials, The Hill reports.
Nichols initially encountered Memphis police on January 7 for alleged reckless driving, which Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis later said there was no evidence of. According to body camera footage, Hemphill arrived at the scene after Nichols was pulled out of a car. The now-former officer tased Nichols as he appeared to run off and said “I hope they stomp his a–” as other law enforcement officials began to chase him.
“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer Hemphill in that first traffic stop,” Mulroy said. “But, we do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate.”
The DA noted that Hemphill wasn’t involved in Nichols’ second encounter with police, where officers beat him three days before he died on January 10.
“He acted on limited information in a matter of seconds in direction and support of the other officers,” Mulroy said.
According to Mulroy, Hemphill has been cooperative throughout the investigation into Nichols’ death. The DA’s decision to not pursue charges was supported by Nichols’ family.
“We understand that this individual has been fully cooperating with the investigation and has promised to provide substantial cooperation going forward,” attorneys for Nichols’s family said in a statement. “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.”
The five other officers involved in Nichols’ beating — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr. — were fired and charged with second-degree murder in connection to Nichols’ death. They have since pleaded not guilty to the charges.