In Shelby County, Tennessee, the district attorney announced Tuesday that it will not file criminal charges against a Memphis police officer fired for his involvement in a traffic stop that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols.
During his arrest for alleged reckless driving on Jan. 7, 29-year-old Nichols was brutally assaulted, and he died three days later. In an update on Tuesday, Shelby County DA Steve Mulroy explained that criminal charges were not warranted against former officer Preston Hemphill.
Hemphill was at the traffic stop but was not present when Nichols was beaten and punched on video, Mulroy said.
“By no means do we endorse the conduct of Officer Hemphill at that first traffic stop,” Mulroy said. “But we do not believe that criminal charges are appropriate.”
A body camera video review was conducted as well as hours of interviews with Hemphill, who fired a stun gun at Nichols as he fled the initial traffic stop.
According to police, Hemphill was fired in February for several violations, including using a Taser.
According to Mulroy, based on an analysis of body camera footage, Hemphill appeared to be attempting to deploy the stun gun "because he saw Nichols was not fleeing towards the neighborhood but was in fact heading towards an open car door of a police cruiser."
"That had to bear weight on our evaluation of his decision," he said.
Attorney Ben Crump and the family supported Mulroy's decision not to press charges, he said.
On behalf of Nichols' family, Crump read a statement that said: “We understand that this individual has been fully cooperating with the investigation and has promised to provide substantial cooperation going forward. 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 statement said.
A police spokesperson could not be reached Tuesday for the department's reaction to the DA’s decision.
Lee Gerald, an attorney for Hemphill, said the announcement "didn’t come as a surprise to us."
Source: NBC News