Five former police officers from Memphis, Tennessee, face criminal charges in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols.
The victim died on January 10, allegedly from wounds sustained during a traffic stop conducted by then-police officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills, Jr. three days earlier is said to have been the cause.
All five suspects were no longer employed by the Memphis Police Department as of last week.
According to court records, they were each charged with one count of second-degree murder, aggravated assault acting in concert, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and one count of official repression.
Steven J. Mulroy, the newly elected district attorney for Shelby County, explained to the press on Thursday that the second-degree murder charge is due to the suspects allegedly engaging in “a knowing killing.”
Nichols, 29, was pulled over by the former police officers near his mother’s home on January 7 at approximately 8:30 p.m. for allegedly driving recklessly, according to a police statement.
A “confrontation” between the suspects and Nichols occurred, after which Nichols reportedly fled on foot. He was apprehended, and another “confrontation” ensued. The exact nature of what Memphis PD refers to as “confrontations” and the events leading up to them remain vague.
The case against the five former officers claims that the bodily injuries sustained by Nichols during these confrontations led to his hospitalization and subsequent death three days later.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Nichols’ family, hired an independent forensic pathologist to investigate the incident. The unnamed pathologist reportedly found that Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” Crump said.
Co-counsel Antonio Romanucci, also representing the family, claimed that Nichols was beaten and kicked for three minutes by the five suspects.
When speaking to the press, Mulroy also described the aggravated kidnapping charge faced by five suspects.
“At a certain point in the sequence of events, it is our view that if it was a legal detention to begin with, it certainly became illegal at a certain point and it was an unlawful detention,” Mulroy said.
Body-cam and pole-cam footage from the scene is expected to be released to the public Friday evening. However, Mulroy has already said that it does not include the start of the traffic stop, CNN reported.
Upon becoming aware of the incident, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis launched an investigation into the five officers and the incident.
In a statement on Facebook, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland offered condolences to the victim’s family and stressed the importance of transparency during the investigation, stating that “the family of Mr. Nichols and our citizens deserve nothing less.”
Mulroy said there was a possibility that the former police officers would face further charges as the investigation continues.
“While each of the individuals played a different role in the action in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols,” Mulroy said.
According to attorney William Massey, Emmitt Martin — one of the suspects he is representing — plans to plead not guilty and will soon post a bond of $350,000.
“Justice means following the law and the law says that no one is guilty until a jury says they’re guilty,” Massey said.
Hard to believe any of them would have the nerve to plead not guilty. Seems to me, with the video evidence of their obvious brutality, bail should be denied.