The city of Memphis, as well as other cities across the nation, are preparing for unruly protests (and possible riots) once the body-cam footage of the beating death of Tyre Nichols is released. Five former Memphis police officers have been hit with murder charges. The disturbing details, plus information about the body-cam footage inside…
The city of Memphis is preparing for public outrage when it releases body-camera footage of a violent altercation between a Black motorist and five police officers accused of killing Tyre Nichols earlier this month later on Friday.
The beating death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five black Memphis police officers is a tragedy that has left the community reeling with anger, frustration, and sadness. The 29-year-old Black motorist died three days after sustaining unspecified injuries during a traffic stop (on January 7th) by Memphis police. According to Tyre’s family (who saw the body-cam footage), the beating lasted over three minutes.
Tyre’s brutal beating is a stark reminder of the systemic issues that continue to plague our criminal justice system.
The officers involved, who were also black, were promptly fired and charged, which is a rare occurrence when officers are involved in the death of a civilian.
i’ve never seen cops indicted before the public has even seen the video!! #TeamDl
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) January 27, 2023
The police department moved swiftly in this case, where the officers were immediately fired and charged.
The five Black officers, including Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith, were each charged with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression for beating Tyre to death during the traffic stop.
Two of the officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death (Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills) will enter not guilty pleas, their attorneys announced Thursday.
All five officers posted bond on Thursday, with bonds ranging from $250,000 to $350,000. Demetrius Haley (top middle photo) was the last officer released, according to reports. His bond had been set at $350,000, jail records show.
“No one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die,” said William Massey, who is Emmitt Martin III’s attorney.
Blake Ballin, a lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr., said his client was “devastated to find himself charged with a crime.”
Both attorneys (William Massey and Blake Ballin) admitted they hadn’t watched the video yet.
Not very much to go on from this, but this is some of the audio recording that was released from the Tyre Nichols case.
Body cam + dash cam footage released tomorrow (Jan 27th)#TyreNichols #Memphis pic.twitter.com/0doVTpinjm
— Red Redact (@TheRedOperation) January 26, 2023
The video, which will be made public on Friday night on the police department’s YouTube channel, is anticipated to include images from body-worn cameras, dashboard cameras mounted on police cars, and security cameras mounted on nearby utility poles.
Although the officers had different roles in the killing, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy stated at a news conference that “they are all responsible.”
“While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols and they are all responsible,” he said at a press conference Thursday.
Watch the press conference below:
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy appeared on “CBS Mornings” where he warned viewers that the video of Tyre Nichols’ arrest is particularly violent.
“When people actually see with their own eyes the kinds of things that occurred in this incident, there’s an even greater potential for a very serious public reaction,” he said. Watch the interview above.
Memphis Police Chief Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis spoke to CNN to explain what the public should expect from the violent arrest footage.
”You are going to see acts that defy humanity. You’re going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we are all sworn to,” Chief Davis told CNN on Friday.
The Memphis police chief said her department has yet to determine whether the officers had probable cause to pull Nichols over for reckless driving, a police stop that quickly turned violent.
“We’ve taken a pretty extensive look to determine what that probable cause was, and we have not been able to substantiate that. It doesn’t mean something didn’t happen, but there is no proof,” she said.
Watch the clip below:
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who is defending Tyre’s family, compared the fatal beating to the 1991 beating of Black motorist Rodney King by four police officers that was caught on camera. King, who died in 2012, was later exonerated of all charges, which led to days of rioting in Los Angeles.
“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 and colleague Antonio Romanucci said in a statement.
The last words heard on the video were Tyre calling out for his mother three times, Crump said.
Tyre Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, stated on Friday that when she first saw her son in his hospital bed, his face was bruised and his nose was shaped like a letter “S.”
”When my husband and I got to the hospital and I saw my son, he was already … gone. They had beat him to a pulp,” she said in a tearful interview broadcast on CNN. She said she could only watch one minute of the body-cam footage, stopping the video after she heard her son continuously ask the officers what did he do.
You can watch the full interview below:
An official autopsy in the case has yet to be completed.
Police departments in several major cities, including Atlanta, New York, and Washington, have said they are bracing for possible protests in the aftermath of the video’s release. Schools in Memphis were set to close early, and Saturday morning events were canceled.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said she expects those who will see the video to “feel outrage,” but urged citizens to practice restraint.
“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 said.
Federal investigators opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols. Agents from the FBI and the Department of Justice were working together with the office of U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz on the case.
We hope that this family receives justice for their loved one’s death and that his death not only sparks discussion, but also sparks ACTUAL change. The fact that this violence was inflicted upon a black man by five black officers, who are supposed to protect and serve the community, adds another layer of complexity to an already deeply troubling incident, and raises important questions about the role of race in policing.
Photos: AP Photo/Adrian Sainz/Shelby County Sheriff’s Office/AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File