Five Memphis police officers, now dismissed, have been charged with killing Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, as the public continues to wait for the release of the video from the officer’s body cams.
Tyre Nichols was severely beaten and killed after a traffic stop that escalated to what the authorities have described as a display of staggering brutality.
The public has been bracing for more than a week for the release of video footage that officials say shows in agonizing detail how a stop this for suspicion of reckless driving left Mr Nichols in critical condition and hospitalized. He died three days later.
Civic leaders and others concerned in Memphis have objected to the release of the police video to the public, raising concerns about the reaction the footage could provoke residents who are already anguished and outraged about Nichols’s death.
A grand jury returned indictments on Thursday against the five ex-police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — with charges that include kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, in addition to second-degree murder, prosecutors said. The officers, all of whom are Black, were fired last week.
The district attorney, Steven J. Mulroy, told reporters that the five officers are all responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols because of their collective actions.
Officials have sought to calm residents by promising a speedy and thorough pursuit of accountability. On Thursday — 16 days after Mr. Nichols died — they offered up the charges as evidence that they were following through. “We did work quickly to expedite this investigation,” Mr. Mulroy said.
The footage is expected to be released on Friday evening, and it would be almost an hour long, consisting of footage taken from the police body cams as well as footage from other stationary cameras.
Authorities say the officers who were part of a special unit patrolling high-crime areas of the city used an excessive amount of force that was far beyond necessary.
“I’m shocked, I’m sickened by what I saw and what we learned through our investigation. Let me be clear, what happened here does not reflect proper policing. This was wrong, this was criminal.” David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which led the investigation said referencing the footage.
However, the lawyers representing the accused officers urged the public not to rush into judgement and conclude that they were violent. They could also not make a comment on the allegations since they have not seen the video.
“At this point, we don’t know what proof they have. “We do not have discovery, and we’ve not seen the video. So we’re kind of in the blind right now.”
In the accused police officer’s statement they said that a “confrontation occurred” as the officers approached Mr. Nichols’s vehicle, and he ran away. There was then “another confrontation” as officers arrested him. The statement further read that Mr. Nichols complained of shortness of breath, and an ambulance was called to take him to a hospital.
A private autopsy on Mr Tyre Nichols’ body by his family found that he “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”
His family had shared photographs of Nichols in the hospital bed with a ventilator, his face bruised and swollen.
According to reports on the video footage, Tyre Nichols was beaten by the police officers for three minutes, He was pepper sprayed, shocked with a stun gun and restrained.