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Three fire department EMTs fired over response to Tyre Nichols being “pepper sprayed”

Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Michelle Whitaker. (Memphis Fire Department Twitter)

Jessica Schladebeck

New York Daily News


Three Memphis EMTs have been fired over their response to the traffic stop that preceded Tyre Nichols’ death.

Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge and Lt. Michelle Whitaker violated multiple department policies and protocols on Jan. 7. They were called that night to Memphis’ Hickory Hill neighborhood around 8:31 p.m. for a “person pepper sprayed,” the fire department said in a statement on Monday

When they arrived on the scene, authorities directed the group of first responders to a second location, where they found Nichols slumped against a police cruiser. Long and Sandridge responded to 29-year-old Nichols, while Whitaker and a driver remained in the vehicle. The fire department said they all “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols.”

An ambulance was called to the scene around 8:46 p.m., and Nichols arrived in the hospital by 9:08 p.m. He died three days later.

“Their actions or inactions on the scene that night do not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department and are not reflective of the outstanding service the men and women of the Memphis Fire Department provide daily in our community,” the statement continued.

Video released on Friday shows officers violently tased, beat and pepper sprayed Nichols after pulling him over on suspicion of reckless driving. At one point, he attempted to flee, but officers managed to catch up and continue the beating.

No official cause of death has been released, but an independent autopsy commissioned by his family shows Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”

Five Memphis police officers have been charged with Nichols murder and a sixth officer has also been fired. Additionally, two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies have been put on leave pending an investigation into their actions in the incident.

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