Tyre Nichols death: Former Memphis police officers charged with second-degree murder
Last week, the five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — involved in Nichols's Jan. 7 arrest were terminated.
The five Memphis Police officers fired in the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died three days after a traffic stop earlier this month, were behind bars on Thursday.
Last week, the five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — involved in Nichols’s Jan. 7 arrest were terminated.
They were booked at the Shelby County Jail in Memphis and were each charged with second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, “aggravated assault — acting in concert,” official misconduct and official oppression, according to online records from the sheriff's office.
During a press conference on Thursday, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said authorities met with Nichols’s family to discuss the charges filed against the officers beforehand and he believes the meeting went well.
“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,” Mulroy said, adding the body camera footage would be released Friday after 6 p.m. local time.
On Wednesday evening, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said in a video statement, in which she braced the community ahead of the release of bodycam footage showing Nichols’s arrest, that the beating he received was “heinous, reckless and inhumane.”
“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. They failed our community, and they failed the Nichols family. That is beyond regrettable,” Davis said.
On Monday, Nichols’s family held a press conference alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump and their legal team after seeing the video footage for the first time.
“All my son was trying to do was get home. He was two minutes from the house when they stopped him. He was less than 80 yards away when they murdered him,” Nichols’s mother said.
Crump described the video as “appalling. It is deplorable, it is heinous, violent, and it is very troublesome on every level.”
“Regrettably, it reminded us of the Rodney King video, and unlike Rodney King, Tyre did not survive,” Crump added.
Crump’s co-counsel described Nichols as defenseless in the video. “He was a piñata to those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes,” lawyer Antonio Romanucci said during the press conference.
Ahead of the body camera footage being released, the police chief urged the community not to respond with violence and destruction.
“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels. I expect you to feel outraged by the disregard for basic human rights, as our police officers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video,” Davis said.
“I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results. But we need to ensure our community is safe in this process,” she added.
While the five officers involved in Nichols’s death were terminated, his family says that is not enough — they want first-degree murder charges.
The Memphis Police Department says it is committed to transparency and rebuilding trust in the community. “This is not a reflection of the good work that many Memphis police officers do every day,” Davis said. “I am not wavering in my commitment to you to have a police force that is here to serve and protect you.”
“My heart went out to the family,” Mulroy told the Associated Press. “I’m a parent. ... I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child, with the possible exception of losing a child under really violent, prolonged circumstances.”
As the investigation continues, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, David Rausch, said they plan to “pursue truth and justice.”
“Simply put this shouldn’t have happened. I’m shocked. I'm sickened by what I saw and what we’ve learned throughout extensive and thorough investigation. It's absolutely appalling,” Rausch said in a press conference Thursday. “Let me be clear. What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing."
On Monday, the Nichols family’s legal team completed an independent autopsy. “Preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” Crump said of the autopsy.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said he will deliver the eulogy at Nichols’s funeral and will stand by the family along with civil rights advocates to ensure they receive justice.
“Firing these officers for misconduct is not enough,” Sharpton said in a statement. “Justice will only be served when all five are charged with killing Tyre Nichols for the simple act of driving while Black.”