Memphis, Tennessee On Friday, five former Memphis police officers appeared in court for the first time and entered not-guilty pleas to murder and other counts related to the alleged beating of Tyre Nichols following a traffic check.
Each of Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr. was charged with one crime of second-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of kidnapping, one act of official oppression, and two counts of official misconduct.
On Jan. 7, they violently pulled Nichols, 29, from his car and punched him, according to his body camera and pole-mounted surveillance film. Three days later, Nichols, a FedEx worker, parent, and skateboarder, passed away.
If they are found guilty of second-degree murder, the former policemen may spend 15 to 60 years in jail. On May 1, they are expected back in court.
Observing that the case “may take some time,” Judge James Jones Jr.
He continued, “We know that this situation may be causing some high emotions, but we urge you to continue to be patient with us.”
After the hearing, family members and lawyers speak
Parents RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, and attorney Ben Crump, were present in court with Nichols. The need for policy reform and the need for former officers to be held accountable was briefly highlighted by Crump.
According to RowVaughn Wells, her family will appear in court each time the cops accused of her son’s death are scheduled to be tried. She explained the “nightmare” that has become her life, at times crying.
She told the media, “I feel numb.” “I keep expecting someone to wake me up, but I know that won’t happen,” the speaker said.
The lead prosecutor argues that the court must act morally
The prosecution is being led by Paul Hagerman, a prosecutor for the district attorney’s office for 21 years. He stated following the arraignment that the urgency to “do the right thing” was the driving force behind the charges being brought.
According to Hagerman, Memphis and the rest of the globe need to make sure that justice is done in this case.
Shelby County’s district attorney, Steve Mulroy, asserted that the investigation carried out by his office has given people a forum to talk about more thorough police reform.
Officer “was doing his job,” says the defense lawyers
John Keith Perry, the former officer’s defense lawyer, said that Bean never struck Nichols and that “he was performing his job.”
Tyre Nichols ought to receive justice, he declared. “I also maintain my position that I will seek justice for Tadarrius Bean.”
Casio Montez, a local activist, could be heard yelling “That’s murder” while Perry talked.
“Justice for Mr. Nichols will not be gained at the expense of justice for Mr. Mills,” said Blake Ballin, who is Mills’ attorney, in a statement to the media.
Investigation into Nichols’ death also involves others
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday that two of its deputies who were seen on body camera footage during the traffic stop have been suspended without pay but are not anticipated to be charged.
Preston Hemphill and two additional Memphis police officers were fired, although they have not yet been charged with any crimes. City attorney Jennifer Sink announced last week that seven additional Memphis police officers, who have not been named, are being looked into in connection with Nichols’ passing.
Although they were dismissed for failing to treat Nichols, three Memphis Fire Department employees have not been put on trial for their actions.
Van Turner, the president of the NAACP Memphis Branch, said in response to the release of the stop-and-frisk video, “If you were an officer or first responder and you sat there and watched this young man die and you did nothing to help resuscitate him, you did nothing to give him aid, you’re just as culpable as the people who beat him down and killed him.”
The federal investigation also involves former policemen
An investigation into probable civil rights violations by the former officers was started by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI Memphis Field Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office.
It’s unusual to see charges like this. Data from the previous 20 years was examined by Syracuse University, and the results showed that 41 federal civil rights charges were brought against law enforcement personnel in the course of their duties annually.
What occurred during the routine patrol?
Haley, an officer, was the one who first took Nichols out of the car. Martin III began to detain Nichols as soon as he arrived, according to police records that were provided last week to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a member of the associated network.
The first three cops to catch up to Nichols were Smith, Bean, and Mills, Jr. After they had Nichols restrained, Haley showed up and started kicking him. Nichols’ arms were being restrained by Bean and Smith when Mills, Jr., pepper sprayed him before striking him with a baton.
According to police records, Haley used his cell phone after the incident to take pictures of Nichols and send them to other recipients.
Who are the former cops accused of murdering Nichols?
The Scorpion Unit, a crime unit that was disbanded following Nichols’ death, consisted of the former officers, all of whom are black.
Bean, 24, and Haley, 30, were employed by the Memphis Police Department in August 2020. In 2016, Haley was accused in a federal complaint of hitting an inmate in the face during a routine search while working as a Shelby County Correctional officer. In the end, the case was dismissed.
In March 2017, the Memphis Police Department recruited 32-year-old Mills. His lawyer, Blake Ballin, revealed to the media that he has worked as a jailer in Tennessee and Mississippi in the past.
In March 2018, the Memphis Police Department employed Martin, 30, and Smith, 28.