Five former Memphis police officers were charged with murder and other crimes on Thursday in the death of Tyre Nichols, a black driver who died three days after a traffic stop on January 7 turned into a fatal physical attack, according to local jail records.
Online records from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office showed that Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith were all being held. All five were charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.
Steve Mulroy, the district attorney for Shelby County, said at a press conference on Thursday,
“While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols and they are all responsible.”
David Rausch, the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said, “Let me be clear: What happened here is in no way an excellent example of police work. “This was wrong,” Rausch said. “This was a crime.” Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, told the Associated Press over the phone that he and Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, talked about the second-degree murder charges and are “fine with it.” They wanted to be charged with first-degree murder.
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He said, “There are other charges, so I’m fine with that.” Mulroy said that Nichols, who is 29, was attacked for three minutes. A lawyer for his family said an independent autopsy showed that he “suffered a lot of bleeding because he was severely beaten.” “He was a human piata for those cops,” Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the family, told reporters. “It was not only violent but also cruel.”
At first, police officials said there was a “confrontation” when officers approached Nichols’ car and another “confrontation” after they arrested him. All five Black former officers accused of being involved in the deadly incident were fired last week. The Memphis police said that the officers broke “multiple department policies,” such as using too much force, stepping in, and helping.
Other officers are being looked into to see if they broke any rules. Officials said that two Memphis firefighters who helped care for Nichols when he was first hurt have been “relieved of duty” until an internal investigation is done. Officials from the state and the federal government are looking into what happened.
The Memphis police said they would put out a video of what happened. The footage has not yet been shown to the general public, but family members and their lawyers have seen it. During the Thursday afternoon press conference, officials said the video would be made public after 6 p.m. local time on Friday.
Family members told reporters that Nichols “called for his mother over and over again” during the beating, which happened about 100 yards from his mother’s house and was caught on tape. Romanucci told reporters that officers pepper-sprayed Nichols, used a stun gun on him, and held him down after watching the video. Representatives of Nichols’s family said that he only wanted to go home.
“Tyre was brutally beaten by Memphis police, just like Rodney King was more than 30 years ago,” said civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who is part of the family’s legal team. “But unlike Rodney, Tyre died from this violent attack,” he added. “Why are we back here after so many years? Justice is the only way to get past the fact that these former police officers killed this young man and robbed his family of a loved one.
The city’s police chief, CJ Davis, called the fatal encounter “heinous, reckless, and inhumane” a day before charges were brought. In a video posted on YouTube, Davis said, “Aside from being your chief of police, I am a citizen of this community we all live in.” “I’m a mother and a kind person who wants the best for everyone.
“This is not just a failure on the job. This shows a lack of basic kindness toward another person… In the spirit of being honest, when the video comes out in a few days, you will be able to see this for yourselves.” The way Nichols’s family talked about his health gave the impression that his physical strength was very different from that of the officers who arrested him. The Washington Post said that Nichols had Crohn’s disease and found it hard to keep his weight up.
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Nichols weighed about 145 pounds. All of the officers who might have killed him weighed more than 200 pounds. The Post said that two of the officers played college football. RowVaughn told the Post that her son had a “gentle soul.” Nichols worked for FedEx and had a son who was four years old. Every night, duHeo his mother’s home. His hobbies every night during his evening meal break included taking photos of sunsets and skateboarding, the New York Times reported. He had a tattoo of his mother’s name on his arm. Qasim Rashid, Esq. Twitter:
Every Black, brown, & white person who condemned the murder of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Aiyana Jones, & more by white cops, now loudly condemn the murder of Tyre Nichols by Black cops.
But suddenly "Blue Lives Matter" crew is silent.🤔 pic.twitter.com/bsTPkqUhWQ
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) January 26, 2023
RowVaughn told the New York Times, “That made me feel proud.” “Most kids don’t write down the name of their mom. My son had a good heart. Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney, said, “He was a wonderful kid. He didn’t deserve what he got. He deserves justice now.” Memphis residents are still on edge while waiting for the video to come out. The Democratic congressman for the city, Steve Cohen, told the Times that the killing was “terrible” and asked for calm.
Cohen said that even if people “want to use their first amendment rights to protest what the police are doing,” they should do so peacefully and calmly.
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