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Five former cops accused of murder: they beat the driver to a pulp, considering him drunk

Five former Memphis cops have been charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols. They stopped him, then beat him - all this was filmed. The recording "disgusted" a senior Tennessee law enforcement official. Read more about this story told the publication NBC News.

Photo: IStock

Law enforcement officers explained that Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving, but Memphis Police Chief Serelyn Davis said an investigation and review of available camera footage found no "evidence" of this.

The officers involved - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith - were fired after Davis said they violated departmental rules, leading to Nichols' death.

Prosecutors announced that all five former officers have been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of misconduct in office, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of harassment by officials, and one count of aggravated assault. .

"The actions of all five led to the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible," Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said in a statement.

Murder in the second degree, the most serious of the charges, "premeditated murder," he remarked.

Two officers, Mills and Smith, posted $250 bail and were released on Thursday, Jan. 000. According to prison records, Hayley, Martin and Bean remained in custody. But as of early Friday morning, January 26, prison records showed that only Hayley remained behind bars.

Video of the incident to be released

Video of the incident will be released after 18 p.m. local time on January 00, officials said. Memphis Police Chief Serelyn Davis suggests citizens will be outraged by what she called the "disgusting, reckless and inhumane" behavior captured on video.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke of Nichols's arrest video during a separate press conference: "I saw the footage myself and I'll tell you I was shocked."

Ahead of the video's release, Memphis-Shelby County schools announced they are canceling extracurricular activities on Jan. 27, and Southwest Tennessee Community College said it would move to virtual classes.

Law enforcement officers in other cities reported that they were preparing for protests and were following the developments. In Washington, D.C., the police department assured that it had "fully deployed" all sworn personnel and promised to take "immediate law enforcement action if anyone breaks the law."

In Minneapolis, a department spokesman stressed that its Public Safety Division "will carry out its mission of protecting the safety of the community while respecting the constitutional rights of all citizens," while authorities in San Francisco are already preparing to respond to events surrounding Nichols' death.

In Atlanta, the police department notified the public that it was "ready to support peaceful protests." Officers are expected to conduct themselves "compassionately, competently and constitutionally," the department said in a statement.

"It could have been me"

During a candlelight vigil attended by more than 300 people in Memphis's Toby Park, Nichols' mother, RowVon Wells, called the video "terrifying" and echoed the police chief's words: "I want each and every one of you to protest peacefully. I don't want us to burn our cities, blow up the streets, because that's not what my son stood for."

At one point, the crowd began chanting "Justice for Tyr" and called for accountability and police reform.

“Over and over again people are brutally murdered in the city of Memphis, and I'm tired of it,” said Amber Sherman. “We need answers.”

The vigil included moments of silence and prayer, drumming, and—in honor of one of Nichols's favorite pastimes—skateboarding, among other things.

“Skateboarders have to support each other no matter what,” said 29-year-old Ron Marion. We are the same age. It could have been me."

No evidence of reckless driving found

According to Davis, Nichols was allegedly pulled over for dangerous driving, but investigation and review of available camera footage found "no evidence" that this was in fact the case.

“We failed to justify dangerous driving. That is why he was allegedly stopped at the very beginning,” she continued. “That doesn't mean something didn't happen. But there is no evidence. The cameras didn't pick up anything."

Davis, after seeing the video footage of the incident, said: “I was overcome with indignation. It was incomprehensible to me, it was shameless. I don't think I've seen anything like it in my entire career."

According to her, the video will show “acts that defy humanity, a disregard for life and a level of physical interaction that exceeds the requirements of law enforcement.”

Nichols' mother says officers 'beat him half to death'

Nichols' mother Wells spoke of her grief in an interview that aired Jan. 27 in the morning on CNN. During the incident, the police came to her door and reported that her son was arrested for drunk driving, he was sprayed with pepper spray and hit with a stun gun.

“Then they asked me if my son was on any drugs or anything like that because it was difficult for them to handcuff him, because he had a huge amount of energy - superhuman energy,” she said. “So I was very embarrassed.”

When the mother got to the hospital and saw Nichols, he had already died.

“They beat him half to death. He was covered in bruises, his head was swollen like a watermelon, his neck was swollen, his nose was broken, ”Wells stated.

Attorney Ben Crump said that Nichols' last words to his mother on the videotaped everything shrinks inside and turns over.

“This should not have happened,” the official said.

The investigation was led by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and director David Rausch assured the video would have a clear message.

“To put it simply: this should not have happened,” he said. “I have been a police officer for over 30 years. I have devoted my whole life to this profession, and I am saddened. Just in shock. I'm sick of what I saw."

Rausch then elaborated: “Let me be clear: what happened here does not at all reflect proper police work. It was wrong. It was criminal."

Defense attorney Blake Ballin, representing Mills, criticized Rausch for his harsh description of the video.

Ballin and William Massey, Martin's lawyer, said they had not yet seen the tape.

Already preparing for the release of the video, Ballin urged the public not to jump to conclusions immediately after its release.

“I would just caution the public to refrain from judgment,” Ballin said. “Know that there is always more to this story.”

“No one wanted Tyre Nichols to die that night,” Massey assured.

The Nichols family supported the decision to press charges.

The allegations against the police officers give "we hope as we continue to seek justice for Tire," lawyers for the family, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, said in a statement.

“This young man died in a particularly horrendous manner, indicating an urgent need for change and reform to stop the violence,” they said. “This tragedy meets the absolute definition of a useless and unnecessary death.”

Lawyers said this week that early autopsy results from a pathologist on Nichols' family show he was severely beaten before he died. The Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office did not release an official cause of death.

Few details released

Nichols, 29, died on January 10, days after the incident.

Nichols was pulled over in the Hickory Hill neighborhood of Memphis for alleged dangerous driving, officials said.

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After an "initial skirmish" where police officers used pepper spray, Nichols fled.

“There was another incident nearby that resulted in serious injuries to Nichols,” Mulroy said. “After a while, he was taken away by an ambulance.”

Mulroy declined to elaborate.

A photograph provided by his stepfather shows a hospitalized Nichols with a bloodied face and a swollen eye.

The Nichols family and her lawyers, Crump and Romanucci, reviewed body camera footage.

Romanucci described it as "a real, unabashed, non-stop beating" for three minutes and stated that the police treated Nichols like a "piñata".

Crump compared the footage to a "Rodney King video", referring to a 1991 video of a black man being beaten by LAPD officers. In this incident, both the police officers and the victim were black.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored (NAACP) President Derrick Johnson said he hopes that when the video is made public, it will spur lawmakers to take decisive action to reform the police.

“Tell us what you are going to do to honor Tyre Nichols,” Johnson said in a statement. “Tell us what you are going to do to show his family, his loving son, and all this people that his life was not wasted.” We can name all the victims of police violence, but we can't name the law you passed to deal with this problem."

The Reverend Al Sharpton said in a statement that the body cameras were introduced to ensure police officers were following the law.

“There is no point in putting a body camera on a police officer if you are not going to prosecute him when the footage shows him mercilessly beating a man to death,” Sharpton concluded. “Layoffs are not enough. Accusations and arrests are not convictions. As in the past - with George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery and others - we will support this family until justice is done. The guilty verdict sends a signal to the nation that cops can't hide behind their badge after committing such a heinous act."

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