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Memphis Police Officers Charged with Second Degree Murder in Death of Tyre Nichols; Video of Incident to be Released Friday

On Thursday, five former Memphis Police officers were charged with second-degree murder and other offenses related to the death of Tyre Nichols.[0] The officers, all Black, were fired from the department last week.[0] Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy also announced that video of the confrontation between Tyre Nichols and Memphis Police will be released by the city after 6 p.m.[1] Friday, January 27.[2]

Nichols passed away on January 10, after a confrontation with the Memphis Police on the 7th of January.[3] An independent autopsy commissioned by attorneys representing the Nichols family showed that he suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.” Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family of Nichols, said preliminary findings of their independent autopsy indicate that Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”

In addition, two Memphis firefighters involved in the initial care of Nichols after the traffic stop were “relieved of duty” pending the outcome of an internal investigation.[3]

The officers charged are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith.[4] All five have been indicted on charges including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and one count of official oppression.

Cerelyn “C.J.” is the Chief[5] Davis stated that there are a number of officers being investigated for breaching departmental regulations.[6] She also said that an independent investigation will take place to look into MPD's specialized units.[5] At a news conference on Monday, Civil Rights Lawyer Antonio Romanucci said video of the traffic stop on Jan. 7 showed that Nichols was subjected to “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” for three minutes by police officers.[7]

The video of the incident will be released after 6 p.m. The City of Memphis held Friday.[5] According to attorneys for the Nichols family, it will show that the incident “was heinous, reckless and inhumane.”[7] The video has already been viewed by family members.[8] Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, described the footage as “horrific,”, while RowVaughn Wells, his mother, was unable to view the whole video.[8] Crump compared the footage to that of Rodney King, a Black man who was savagely beaten by Los Angeles police officers during a traffic stop in 1991 video.[8]

0. “Capitol Police boost security preparations ahead of Tyre Nichols footage release” POLITICO, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/26/capitol-police-boost-security-preparations-ahead-of-tyre-nichols-footage-release-00079816

1. “Tyre Nichols is dead. 5 cops are indicted. We still have questions.” mlk50.com, 26 Jan. 2023, https://mlk50.com/2023/01/26/tyre-nichols-is-dead-5-cops-are-in-jail-we-still-have-questions/

2. “Tyre Nichols' investigation | Attorneys for two of the indicted former Memphis police officers hold news conference” WATN – Local 24, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/local/tyre-nichols-death-investigation-officer-involved-criminal-defense-attorney-charges-police-brutality-memphis/522-7636d952-71ce-4f36-87b7-e54c517200ca

3. “2 Memphis Fire Department employees are ‘relieved of duty' after Tyre Nichols' death” NPR, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/01/24/1151150396/tyre-nichols-memphis-fire-department-employees

4. “Tyre Nichols death: Family sees video; Firefighters ‘relieved of duty'” USA TODAY, 23 Jan. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/01/23/tyre-nichols-family-lawyers-speak-after-seeing-footage-arrest/11107882002/

5. “Tyre Nichols death: Memphis police officers indicted, booked” Commercial Appeal, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2023/01/26/one-indicted-all-five-mpd-officers-booked-in-tyre-nichols-death/69844181007/

6. “Tyre Nichols’s death after police encounter was ‘failing of basic humanity’, says Memphis chief” The Guardian US, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/26/tyre-nichols-death-memphis-police-killing

7. “What we know about Tyre Nichols' death after Memphis police traffic stop” Axios, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/01/25/tyre-nichols-memphis-police-death

8. “Memphis braces for release of video footage in Tyre Nichols beating” The Hill, 26 Jan. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/3831775-memphis-braces-for-release-of-video-footage-in-tyre-nichols-beating/