San Francisco Chronicle

Murder charges for 5 Memphis officers in driver’s death

- By Adrian Sainz and Rebecca Reynolds

MEMPHIS — Five fired Memphis police officers were charged Thursday with second-degree murder and other crimes in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontat­ion with the officers during a traffic stop.

A grand jury handed up indictment­s against Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said during a news conference. The fired officers, who are all Black, each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

Mulroy said although the fired officers each played different roles in the killing of Nichols, “they are all responsibl­e.”

He said police video of the traffic stop, which Nichols' family and their lawyers say shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old father and FedEx worker for three minutes, will be released to the public sometime after 6 p.m. on Friday.

Nichols' stepfather, Rodney Wells, said he and his wife RowVaughn Wells, who is Nichols' mother, discussed the second-degree murder charges and are “fine with it.” They had pushed for first-degree murder charges.

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigat­ion, said during the news conference that he saw the video and found it “absolutely appalling”

“Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal,” Rausch said.

Court records show that the five former officers were in custody.

Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.

The attorneys for Nichols' family, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, issued a statement praising the charges.

“The news today from Memphis officials that these five officers are being held criminally accountabl­e for their deadly and brutal actions gives us hope as we continue to push for justice for Tyre,” they wrote. “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.”

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