5 Former Memphis Officers Charged With Murder in Tyre Nichols Death

5 Former Memphis Officers Charged With Murder in Tyre Nichols Death
This combo of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows (top L–R) officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, (bottom L–R) Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith. (Memphis Police Department via AP)
Ryan Morgan

Five former Memphis police officers have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 10 death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, a black man.

Now-fired Memphis Police Department officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith—who are also black—have been accused of severely beating Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop.

On Thursday, the five officers were charged with second-degree murder. The officers were also charged with aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping involving possession of a weapon, official misconduct through the unauthorized exercise of power, official misconduct through the failure to act upon a lawful duty, and official oppression.

All five officers face the same set of charges.

Nichols was initially pulled over for a traffic stop for reckless driving. During the stop, Nichols and the responding officers reportedly had a "confrontation" after which Nichols fled. When the officers caught up with Nichols, they allegedly beat him.

Nichols died in a hospital on Jan. 10, three days after sustaining injuries during his arrest.

On Jan. 20, MPD announced it had fired Bean, Haley, Martin, Mills, and Smith after determining they "violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid."
On Wednesday, Nichols's family was able to see the arrest footage. Attorney Antonio Romanucci described the police encounter as an "unadulterated, unabashed, non-stop beating of this young boy for three minutes," adding, "he was a human piñata for those police officers."
During a Thursday press conference, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said each of the five officers played a different role in their interaction with Nichols, but "the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols and they are all responsible."
Ahead of the charging decision, Martin's attorney, William Massey, told Reuters: "We are waiting to get the indictment. We will know particularly what charges have been brought and we will go from there."

Attorneys for the other former officers could not immediately be reached for comment.

City Bracing for Arrest Footage Release

After viewing the arrest footage, Nichols's step-father, Rodney Wells, said the footage was "horrific" and no father or mother "should have to witness what I saw today."

While announcing the decision to fire the five MPD officers on Friday, MPD Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said "the Memphis Police Department is committed to protecting and defending the rights of every citizen in our city" and "the egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day."

While Nichols's family has been able to view the body camera footage of the arrest, the video has not yet been released to the broader public. In anticipation of the release of the footage, Davis issued a statement on Wednesday, urging potential protesters to remain peaceful.

"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," Davis said. "None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens."

In a statement Monday, Mulroy indicated the body camera footage could be released either sometime this week or next week. He said he is working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the FBI and said it's important that the video's release "does not compromise the investigation." Mulroy also said he has been consulting regularly with the City of Memphis about the video's release.
"I think that people will be able to draw their own conclusions once we show the video," Mulroy said.
Reuters contributed to this report.