Five Memphis Police Officers Charged with Murder for Death of Tyre Nichols
Five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder, among other charges, in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after being stopped by the officers.
Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died on January 10, three days after Memphis police officers stopped him for “reckless driving.”
A “confrontation occurred” between Nichols and the police officers when he was stopped around 8:30 p.m. on January 7, according to an initial statement released by authorities.
However, “another confrontation occurred,” while officers attempted to take Nichols into custody.
“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” the Memphis Police Department said. “Afterward the suspect complained of having shortness of breath, at which point an ambulance was called to the scene.”
Nichols was transported to St. Francis Hospital, where he was reportedly in critical condition before dying days later.
Notably, Memphis Police Department officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, and Justin Smith are all black.
“I was waiting for their faces to be on TV, and when I saw all Black policemen — how could you do this?” 73-year-old Memphis resident and longtime activist Carrie Louise Pinson said.
Each of the five officers joined the Memphis Police Department between 2017 and 2020, the New York Times reported.
The officers were a part of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION Unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.
On Thursday, a grand jury returned indictments against all five officers for charges that include kidnapping, official misconduct, official oppression, and second-degree murder.
The grand jury indictment comes after the Memphis Police Department fired each officer last week.
“The actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible,” Memphis district attorney Steven J. Mulroy told reporters on Thursday.
Additionally, the Memphis Fire Department announced that two employees who responded to the scene have been “relieved of duty” amid an internal investigation.
A federal civil rights investigation is also reportedly underway.
Memphis officials are expected to release the body camera footage from Nichols’ traffic stop on Friday.
However, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations director David Rausch said the video is “absolutely appalling.”
“In a word, it’s absolutely appalling,” Rausch said.
“I’m shocked, I’m sickened by what I saw and what we learned through our investigation,” Rausch added. “Let me be clear, what happened here does not reflect proper policing. This was wrong, this was criminal.”
Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for Nichols’ family, said the video shows the police officers beating Nichols like a “human piñata.”
However, community leaders and members of Nichols’ family have cautioned against violently protesting after the body camera footage is released.
“My hope is that they all remain peaceful because the last thing we need on top of this tragedy is for a protest to get out of hand,” Memphis NAACP’s PAC chairman Ian Randolph said.
“When that tape comes out tomorrow, it’s going to be horrific. I didn’t see it, but from what I hear, it’s going to be horrific. But I want each and every one of you to protest in peace. I don’t want the burning of our city, tearing up the streets,” Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said. “Cause that’s not what my son stood for. And if you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”