The death of Tyre Nichols has sparked a call for police reform and accountability across the nation. In Memphis, Tennessee, the incident has already led to the firing of six officers and the suspension of another. The latest to be let go is Preston Hemphill, who was found to have violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols.
The incident that led to Nichols’ death began on January 7th with a traffic stop. Body camera footage from the initial stop showed Hemphill saying he stunned Nichols and declaring, “I hope they stomp his ass.” Three days later, Nichols died.
In addition to the criminal charges brought against the officers involved in the incident, the Tennessee board has also suspended the emergency medical technician licenses of two former Memphis Fire Department employees for failing to render critical care. Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge are accused of failing to care for Nichols, who was clearly in distress during the 19 minute period.
The suspensions of Long and Sandridge build on efforts by authorities to hold officers and other first responders accountable for the violence against Nichols, who was Black. The Justice Department has also opened a civil rights probe into the attack that was captured on video.
At Nichols’ funeral on Wednesday, calls for reform and justice were interwoven with grief over the loss of a man remembered as a son, a sibling, a father and a passionate photographer and skateboarder. The incident has reignited the conversation around police reform and how to treat Black citizens with respect and dignity.
It is clear that the death of Tyre Nichols has sent shockwaves throughout the nation, and it is up to us to ensure that his death is not in vain. We must continue to call for reform and justice to ensure that such an incident never happens again.