San Francisco Chronicle
Murder charges for 5 Memphis officers in driver’s death
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.”