The Memphis Fire Department terminated three employees Monday who allegedly broke “numerous” policies when they responded to the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols earlier this month, the latest first responders to lose their jobs in recent weeks, as fallout continues over the release of a video showing police officers beating Nichols just days before his death.
Emergency medical technicians Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge, along with Fire Department Lt. Michelle Whitaker, were all fired Monday.
Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat said in a statement the three responded to a police report of a person pepper sprayed the night of January 7 but “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols.”
Nichols was transported to a hospital 27 minutes after Long and Sandridge first arrived on the scene, according to Sweat.
Whitaker—who drove the EMTs to the scene—did not get out of the fire department’s vehicle, Sweat said.
Nichols died of blood loss on January 10, which prosecutors say was a direct result of the beating he took from police.
Five police officers involved in the arrest were fired on January 20 and later charged with second-degree murder, while the Memphis Police Department announced a sixth officer was “relieved of duty” Monday. That officer—Preston Hemphill—has not been charged, though he was heard on video footage released Friday night encouraging other officers to “stomp” Nichols. The release of the video sparked public outrage, leading to protests in several cities and renewed calls for police reform.
What We Don’t Know
Police say Nichols was pulled over on January 7 for suspected reckless driving, but the video left it unclear why they made that claim or why they approached Nichols so violently during the traffic stop, yanking him out of his car.
Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis disbanded the police department’s specialized SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit this weekend due to its actions in Nichols’ arrest. It is also unclear why a unit designed only to respond to the most violent crimes was involved in Nichols’ traffic stop.
Tyre Nichols Video: Footage Released Of Violent Arrest In Memphis (Forbes)
Tyre Nichols’ Killing: 5 Memphis Police Officers Charged With Murder (Forbes)
Sixth Memphis Police Officer ‘Relieved Of Duty’ After Tyre Nichols’ Death (Forbes)