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Ex-Memphis police officers charged with murder in beating of Tyre Nichols; video to be released Friday

Noah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Five former police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, were charged with second-degree murder Thursday in the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop, authorities said.

Ex-Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, who are Black, were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, one count of official oppression, aggravated assault while acting in concert and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in the death of Nichols, according to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee.

“I’m excited. It shows that justice is being served. It doesn’t matter the color of the officers. The fact is, the officers did what they did, and it was unnecessary,” Nichols’ aunt Kandi Green said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

The encounter occurred Jan. 7 and was captured on police body cameras.

The Memphis Police Department and other law enforcement agencies across the country were bracing for reaction to the release of the video showing the beating of Nichols, who died on Jan. 10.

The city of Memphis announced it would release video of the police encounter Friday after 6 p.m. Central time. Police departments across the country were on notice as they braced for demonstrations.


“This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane,” said Memphis police Chief Cerelyn Davis in a video statement Wednesday evening. “When the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”

Davis, taking an apologetic tone in her address, urged citizens to peacefully express their First Amendment rights but added that the disturbing video must not be a “calling card for inciting violence.”

Lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, said the charging of the officers “gives us hope as we continue to push for justice for Tyre.”

“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 said in a statement.


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