Former Memphis police officers face murder charges
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Five former Memphis police officers involved in a traffic stop that preceded a man’s death have been arrested, records show.
Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmit Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. have each been charged with one count of second-degree murder, aggravated assault – acting in concert, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and one count of official oppression, court records show.
The five have been booked at the Shelby County Jail.
The charges come less than a week after the officers were fired and accused of violating department policy during the stop of Tyre Nichols, 29.
Nichols was pulled over Jan. 7 and after two “confrontations” with officers, he “complained of a shortness of breath,” according to an initial statement from police. He was hospitalized in critical condition and died on Jan.10. Memphis police have not explained what happened during the confrontations.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis called the incident “heinous, reckless and inhumane” in a video statement Wednesday.
Nichols’ family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement the announcement of the charges “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,” the statement said.
City to release video of stop Friday
Video of the stop will be released by the city sometime after 6 p.m. Friday, Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy said Thursday afternoon.
Mulroy said the footage likely will be a combination of body camera video and surveillance video. Some of the video will be redacted, Mulroy said.
What is captured on that video is “absolutely appalling,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said.
“Frankly I’m shocked. I’m sickened by what I saw and through our extensive and thorough investigation,” Raush said. “What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.”
Crump and Romanucci viewed the video earlier this week. Romanucci said it showed the “unadulterated … beating of [Nichols] for three minutes.”
Other officers under investigation
After an internal investigation, the five officers involved in the stop were fired Jan. 20. The department cited multiple policy violations, including those on use of force, failure to render aid and their duty to intervene.
Two Memphis firefighters were also “relieved of duty” pending an internal investigation into their actions after the stop, a fire department spokeswoman said.
Davis said Wednesday that more officers are under investigation as she conducts a “complete and independent review” of all the department’s specialized units.
Federal investigation launched
The FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have launched investigations into the traffic stop and death. Kevin G. Ritz, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, urged patience Wednesday as the investigation is completed.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson called for a federal investigation into the Memphis Police Department. Jackson and Bishop Tavis Grant said a thorough investigation would help create stronger policies to restore community trust.
Funeral arrangements made for Nichols
A funeral for Nichols will be held Wednesday at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. The funeral will be open to the public, and the Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.
A candlelight vigil will be held Jan. 26 at a Memphis skatepark. Vigils and memorials will also be hosted in California on Monday and on Feb. 4.
Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
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