Tyre Nichols, who died days after a traffic stop on January 7, was beaten to death by five former Memphis police officers.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith are all charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression, among other things.
All of the fired officers, like Nichols, are Black.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis released a video statement on Wednesday discussing “the horrific circumstances” of Nichols’ death. She described the incident as “heinous, reckless, and inhumane,” calling it a professional failure.
Prosecutors revealed new details about the Jan. 7 traffic stop during a news conference announcing the five officers’ indictments.
While each of the five officers played a different role, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told reporters that “the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible.”
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“Because of the extraordinary nature of this case, we worked quickly to expedite this investigation,” Mulroy said. “We worked quickly and fairly, calculated to ensure we had a strong case.”
A grand jury returned indictments, charging all five officers with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated kidnapping.
NEWS ALERT: Five men, now former officers from the Memphis Police Department, face felony charges following an independent use-of-force investigation by special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
— Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) January 26, 2023
The footage from police body camera is expected to be released in the coming days.
The incident’s body camera footage was shown to Nichols’ family but not made public. Authorities told reporters on Thursday that it would be released sometime after 6 p.m. local time on Friday.
In a statement, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office stated that it understood the “reasonable public request” to view the video of Nichols’ death. The office stated that it was working to determine how quickly the footage could be released.
In advance of the video’s release, NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement urging Congress to act against police reform.
“Our country is once again bracing for the release of yet another traumatic video of a police killing. If there is anyone in Congress who needs to see this video, it is every single leader ” Johnson said in
“By failing to write a piece of legislation, you’re writing another obituary. By failing to pass the legislation, you’re passing on your sworn duty to protect the people,” he added.
Nichols died on January 10, three days after being stopped for reckless driving by Memphis police. According to police, the 29-year-old fled the scene of the traffic stop but was eventually apprehended after two “confrontations” with officers.
According to authorities, Nichols complained of shortness of breath after his arrest and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. His family claimed that the cops thrashed him so badly that he was unrecognisable.
According to the family’s attorney, Nichols was the latest victim of “a simple traffic stop.”
During a news conference earlier this week, one of the family’s attorneys, Ben Crump, stated that Nichols was tased, pepper-sprayed, and restrained during his arrest.
Nichols could be heard calling out for his mother in body camera footage of the incident, according to Crump.
“Yet again, we see evidence of what happens to Black and brown people as a result of simple traffic stops,” Crump said. “You should not have been killed as a result of a simple traffic stop.”
Crump asserted in a statement following Thursday’s news conference that, while the five officers are being held criminally accountable for their actions, policing in the United States still requires significant reform.
“This tragedy is the epitome of a needless and unnecessary death. Tyre’s loved ones’ lives were forever altered when he was beaten to death, and we will continue to call out his name until justice is served “He stated.
Davis, the police chief, stated earlier this week on Twitter that the five officers violated multiple police department policies, including “excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.”
“The Memphis Police Department is dedicated to protecting and defending the rights of all citizens in our city,” said Davis. “The heinous nature of this incident does not reflect the good work that our officers do every day with integrity.”
Two Memphis, Tennessee, fire department employees have also been “relieved of duty” while an internal investigation is underway.
Qwanesha Ward, a spokesperson for the Memphis Fire Department, told NPR that the employees, who were not identified, were “involved in the initial patient care” of Nichols. She didn’t elaborate any further.
“We cannot comment further at this time because this is an ongoing investigation,” Ward said.
The Justice Department and the FBI have also launched a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death, while the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is conducting its own investigation.
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