The prosecution will release an “absolutely appalling” video of the beating death of an African-American man by police officers in Memphis
The five officers, who are also all black, face charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression< /h2>
This series of file photos provided by the Shelby County Police Department shows, in the top row, from left to right, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley and Emmitt Martin III; and on the bottom row, from left to right, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith. (Shelby County Sheriff's Department via AP)
Five Memphis police officers were charged Thursday with murder and other crimes in the death of < b>Tire Nichols, an African-American motorist who died three days after a confrontation with officers during a traffic stop.
The county district attorney by Shelby, Steve Mulroy, told a news conference that although each officer played a different role in the murder, “everyone is responsible.”
The officers, who are all African-American, face charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Video of the Jan. 7 traffic stop will be released to the public Friday night, Mulroy said. Nichols' family and his lawyers said the footage shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault the legal team compared to the infamous 1991 beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King. His family urged supporters to protest peacefully.
Nichols' stepfather, Rodney Wells, told The Associated Press by phone that he and his wife, RowVaughn Wells, who is Nichols' mother, discussed the second-degree murder charges and are “fine with it.” They had sought charges of first-degree murder.
“There are other charges, so I'm fine with that,” he said.
When When asked about the kidnapping charges, the district attorney said, “If it was a legal arrest to begin with, it certainly became illegal at a certain point and it was an illegal arrest.”
David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said he saw the video and found it “absolutely appalling.”
Tire Nichols, who died in a hospital on January 10, three days after being injured during his arrest by police officers
“Let me be clear: what happened here is not in no way reflects proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal,” Rausch said during the press conference.
Court records showed that the five former officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith, were arrested.
Martin's attorney, William Massey, confirmed that his client was had delivered. He and Mills' attorney, Blake Ballin, said their clients would plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley could not be reached.
“No one out there that night intended for Tire Nichols to die,” Massey said.
< p class="paragraph">Both lawyers said they had not seen the video.
“We are in the dark about a lot of things, as is the general public,” Ballin said.
Second degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.
Later Thursday, several dozen supporters joined Nichols' mother and stepfather on a chilly night for a candlelight vigil and prayer service at a Memphis skate park. Nichols, who had a 4-year-old son, was an avid skateboarder.
Officer Emmitt Martin III, who had been hired by the Memphis Police Department in March 2018 and was fired with four other officers after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended in the death of Tire Nichols
RowVaughn Wells thanked attendees, then added that his family is “heartbroken”.
Warning supporters of the “horrifying” nature of the video due to be released on Friday, but he pleaded with them to “protest in peace”.
“I don't want us to burn down our city, tear up the streets, because that's not what my son stood for,” she said. “If you are here for me and Tire, then you will protest peacefully. You can express his point of view, but we don't need to tear up our cities, people, because we have to live in them.”
Activists and clergy led the group in prayer and a drummer played a steady beat to usher in the speaking portion of the vigil. The skaters then mounted their boards as Wells and her husband looked on.
Officer Justin Smith
Nichols' family attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, issued a statement saying Nichols “lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reforms to ensure that this violence stops occurring during low threat proceedings.” as in this case, a traffic stop.”
The Reverend Al Sharpton, who runs the National Action Networkand will deliver the eulogy at Nichols' funeral next week, called the charges “a necessary step to bring justice” for Nichols.
“There is no point in putting a body camera on a police if you're not going to hold him accountable when footage shows him relentlessly beating a man to death,” Sharpton said. “Layoffs are not enough. Charges and arrests are not convictions. As we have done in the past…we will stand with this family until justice is done.”
At theWhite House, President Joe Biden said the Nichols family and the city of Memphis deserve “a prompt, full and transparent investigation ”.
US President Joe Biden
“Public trust is the foundation of public safety, and there are still too many places in America today in a day where the bonds of trust are frayed or broken,” Biden said in a statement.
The Memphis Police Chief called the officers' actions that night “appalling, reckless and inhumane.”
“This is not just professional failure. This is a basic lack of humanity towards another individual,” Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said in a video statement posted Wednesday night on social media.
Davis said the five officers found to be “directly responsible for the physical abuse of Mr. Nichols” were fired last week, but other officers are still being investigated for violating department policy. Furthermore, he said “a complete and independent review.” it will be carried out by the specialized units of the department, without providing further details.
Two workers from the fire department were also removed from their duties due to the arrest of Nichols
As state and federal investigations continue, Davis promised the police department's “full and complete cooperation” in determining what contributed to Nichols' death on January 10.
Officer Demetrius Haley, who had been hired by the Memphis Police Department in August 2020 and was fired with four other officers after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended in the death of Tire Nichols
Mulroy told The Associated Press Tuesday that state and local investigators wanted to complete as many interviews as possible before releasing the video. The schedule upset some activists who had hoped the video would be released after it was seen by Nichols' family and the family's lawyers on Monday.
Crump said the video showed that Nichols was shocked, pepper-sprayed and restrained when he was pulled over near his home. He was returning home from a suburban park where he had taken photos of the sunset.
Police have said Nichols was arrested for reckless driving and at some point fled the scene.
Relatives have accused police of causing Nichols to have a heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities have only said that Nichols experienced a medical emergency.
Officer Desmond Mills, Jr.
When the video of the arrest is released, Davis said he hopes people in the community will react, but urged them to do so peacefully.
“None of this is a calling card to incite violence or destruction in our community or against our citizens,” he said.
One of the officers, Haley, was previously accused of using excessive force. He was named a defendant in a 2016 federal civil rights lawsuit while working for the Shelby County Division of Corrections.
Officer Tadarrius Bean, who had been hired by the Memphis Police Department in August 2020 and was fired with four other officers
Plaintiff Cordarlrius Sledge stated that he was jailed in 2015 when Haley and another corrections officer accused him of dumping contraband. The two officers “punched me in the face,” according to the complaint.
Then a third officer slammed his head on the ground, Sledge said. He lost consciousness and woke up in the facility's medical center.
The claims were ultimately dismissed after a judge ruled that Sledge had not filed a complaint against the officers within 30 days after the incident.
(With information from AP)