Four Memphis police officers fired for allegedly committing murder were indicted on Thursday for the murder of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told a press conference that despite the officers playing different roles in the killing, they are all responsible. All of the officers are Black, and they face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, misconduct and oppression.
The video of the traffic stop on Jan. 7th will be released to the public sometime Friday evening, Mulroy said. The Nichols family and their legal team argued that the video exhibits officers beating the FedEx employee 29 times for three minutes in an assault that the legal team compared to Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991. His relatives discouraged followers from protesting in a peaceful manner.
Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, told the Associated Press over the phone that he and his wife, RowVaughn Wells, discussed the second-degree murder charges and were happy with the decision. They had originally requested first-degree murder.
When asked about the accusation of kidnapping, the district attorney said: “If it was legal at first, it certainly became illegal at some point and was an unlawful detention.”
David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, commented that he viewed the video and found it “absolutely reprehensible.”
Please be direct: What took place here is not representative of proper police conduct. This was unacceptable. This was illegal,” Rausch said during the press conference. Court documents indicated that all five former officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were arrested.
William Massey, the lawyer for Martin, confirmed that his client had surrendered to police. He and Mills legal representative, Blake Ballin, said that they would deny the charges. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley were not available.
No one intended for Tyre Nichols to perish that night, Massey said.
Both attorneys denied having seen the video.