Five former Memphis police officers have been charged with murder and various other charges in connection to the death of Tyre Nichols earlier this month. Taddarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr., all of whom are also Black, have each been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct, and one charge of official oppression, according to Shelby County criminal court records. Their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy is set to provide an update on the investigation at 2 p.m. CT Thursday. Authorities expect to release video of the arrest on Friday, a source close to the investigation told CNN’s Don Lemon.
The criminal charges come about three weeks after Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after a traffic stop and “confrontation” with Memphis police that family attorneys have called a savage beating. Nichols died from his injuries on January 10, three days after the arrest, authorities said. The five Memphis police officers were fired last week for violating policies on excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid, the department said.
Police nationwide have been under heightened scrutiny for how they treat Black people, particularly since the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the mass protest movement known as Black Lives Matter. In a YouTube video released late Wednesday, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis condemned the officers’ actions and called for peaceful protests when the arrest video is released.
“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual,” Davis said in the video, her first on-camera comments about the arrest. “This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
The five terminated officers had all joined the department in the last six years, according to police. Other Memphis police officers are still under investigation for department policy violations related to the incident, the chief said. Two members of the city’s fire department who were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” also were relieved of duty, a fire spokesperson said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced an investigation into Nichols’ death and the US Department of Justice and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation.
In conclusion, law enforcement agencies nationwide are bracing for protests and potential unrest following the release of video, multiple sources told CNN.
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