Five fired Memphis police officers indicted, booked in connection to Tyre Nichols death
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Five former Memphis Police officers were charged Thursday in the death of Tyre Nichols and booked into the Shelby County Jail.
Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills, Jr. are all 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 oppression, court records show.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, in a press conference Thursday, called second-degree murder "a knowing killing."
"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, describing the aggravated kidnapping charge.
Mulroy described the official misconduct charge as an unauthorized exercise of power, described official misconduct as the failure to act when there is a duty imposed by a law, and described official oppression as a "knowing mistreatment" in carrying out official duties.
The charges come just under a week after the five officers from the Memphis Police Department were fired for their involvement in the traffic stop that precipitated Nichols' death over two weeks ago. Nichols, 29, died Jan. 10, three days after a traffic stop near his mother's home and after what Memphis Police called a "confrontation."
Since then, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "C.J." Davis said an unspecified number of other officers are under investigation for violations of department policy. Davis also said that an independent investigation will take place to look into MPD's specialized units.
In a Thursday press conference, Mulroy said the earlier indictments of the five officers "precludes the addition of any further charges" being filed against the other officers MPD is currently investigating internally. He said the TBI investigation is still ongoing.
According to a statement from the Memphis Police Department, officers pulled Nichols over around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 and a "confrontation" ensued. Nichols eventually ran away, but was later arrested. Officers said another "confrontation" happened at that point, but he had already been detained.
It was after this that police say Nichols "complained of a shortness of breath," and was taken to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.
A preliminary report from civil rights attorney Ben Crump's independent forensic pathologist said Nichols suffered "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating."
“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.
He also provided further details about the incident, including "some period of time of waiting around" after "the serious injuries were experienced by Mr. Nichols."
The family was able to view the footage from the incident Monday and hosted a press conference afterward. They were flanked by Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci — both of whom have been retained by the family.
Romanucci said Nichols was "kicked" and was the subject of "multiple uses of force" during the "unadulterated...beating of [Nichols] for three minutes."
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The video, according to Crump, is reminiscent of the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
"This young man lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop," Crump said in a statement Thursday. "This tragedy meets the absolute definition of a needless and unnecessary death."
Mulroy said the video of the traffic stop will be released after 6 p.m. Friday by the City of Memphis.
President Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday afternoon, calling for peaceful protests. He also said Nichols' death is an opportunity to "deliver real change" through "accountability."
"As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest," Biden said in a written statement. "Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice."
Indictment against five former Memphis police officers by USA TODAY Network on Scribd
Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Tyre Nichols death: Memphis police officers indicted, booked