MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan 31 (Reuters) – The Memphis Fire Department said on Monday it fired two emergency medical technicians dispatched to the scene of the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols after finding that the paramedics failed to render adequate medical care to him.
A third member of the Memphis Fire Department, a lieutenant who drove the two paramedics to the scene and remained in her vehicle after arriving, was also dismissed, the department said in a statement.
The move came hours after the Memphis Police Department disclosed that seven of its officers were relieved of duty for their roles in the confrontation that led to the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. That total included five officers who previously were dismissed from the force and charged with murder last week.
A sixth officer – identified as Preston Hemphill – was suspended with pay pending a hearing, and a seventh officer who was not immediately identified was relieved of duty without pay, the police department said. No criminal charges have been filed against Hemphill, 26, who joined the force in 2018, or against the seventh, unnamed officer.
A police department spokesperson declined to comment on why suspensions were not announced earlier.
Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has previously said that an unspecified number of officers besides the five initially implicated remained under investigation for policy infractions stemming from the ill-fated arrest of Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop.
The five officers dismissed on Jan. 20 – all of them Black – were charged Thursday with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression in the fatal beating of Nichols.
Hemphill, who is white, wore the body-camera that captured the first of four videos released by authorities on Friday of the traffic stop and violent confrontation that followed, according to the officer’s attorney, Lee Gerald.
Nichols arrived at a hospital in critical condition after he was repeatedly pummeled with punches, kicks and blows from a baton, and he died three days later.
EMTs Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment” upon seeing the injured Nichols a few minutes after police stopped beating him, Fire Chief Gina Sweat said in a statement.
They were terminated for violating fire department policy along with Michelle Whitaker, a lieutenant in the department who drove them to the scene and remained in the vehicle after arriving, the statement said.
Reporting by Alyssa Pointer in Memphis, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Tyler Clifford and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by David Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman