The Commercial Appeal

Court order halts release of Nichols footage, documents

- Lucas Finton

About 20 hours of footage, audio, and documents relating to the internal investigat­ion into Tyre Nichols’ death in early January were not released Wednesday after Shelby County Criminal Court Judge James Jones Jr. signed a court order blocking the release.

The order, which was filed by Blake Ballin — the attorney representi­ng Desmond Mills Jr. — and signed on by the other four officers, was filed Wednesday. Those five Memphis police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Mills — were charged with second-degree murder, among other charges, in the beating and subsequent death of 29year-old Tyre Nichols.

“The court orders that the release of videos, audio, reports, and personnel files of City of Memphis employees related to this indictment and investigat­ion (to include administra­tive hearings, records and related files) shall be delayed until such time as the state and the defendants have reviewed this informatio­n,” the court order read. “The release of this informatio­n shall be subject to further orders of this court and, in the public interest, will be ordered as soon as possible.”

The City of Memphis confirmed to The Commercial Appeal that the hearing on the motion was held Wednesday morning.

It is unclear when the footage, audio and documents will now be released. The footage was initially slated to become publicly available Wednesday afternoon. It is also unclear why the order was filed so late.

“For the sake of transparen­cy and the public interest, our office supports MPD’S decision to release the remainder of the video footage in the Tyre Nichols investigat­ion,” a statement from the Shelby County District Attorney ‘s Office read.

Although favoring the release of the footage, the DA’S office said the documents and “other material” need to be carefully reviewed to not jeopardize the prosecutio­n.

“We know the judge has the final say in this matter and trust that the appropriat­e decision has been made to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigat­ion,” the statement read. “We will work to review the material promptly in the hopes that the majority of it will be released sooner rather than later.”

Nichols, an avid skateboard­er who worked for Fedex, was pulled over in the evening hours of Jan. 7 for a traffic violation, although officials have since said there was no evidence to confirm any violations took place. He was pulled from his car, taken to the ground and pepper sprayed while officers yelled at him.

Eventually, Nichols jumped up and ran away. As he was running, now-former Officer Preston Hemphill, who has not been criminally charged, fired his taser at Nichols. Nichols took his jacket off and kept running towards his mother’s house.

Officers caught up to Nichols less than 100 yards from his mother’s home and tackled him to the ground. He was then punched, kicked, pepper sprayed and hit with a baton by officers. After three minutes of officers beating Nichols, he was leaned on the side of a squad cruiser while other officers conversed with one another casually.

Nichols was then taken to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition. He died three days later.

A total of 17 city employees were internally charged during the administra­tive investigat­ion. 13 MPD officers were charged with seven being fired, three being suspended without pay, two having their charges dropped and one who retired before his hearing. According to the city’s chief legal officer, Jennifer Sink, the recommenda­tion for that officer would have been terminatio­n.

Four employees of the Memphis Fire Department were also charged. Three were fired and one was suspended without pay.

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