About second-degree murder and other charges stemming from Tyre Nichols’ violent arrest and death, five former Memphis police officers entered a not-guilty plea on Friday.
Before a judge in Shelby County Criminal Court, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith made their first court appearances with their attorneys present. After an internal police investigation following the arrest of Nichols on January 7, who passed away in a hospital three days later, the policemen were discharged.
On charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression, the cops entered a not-guilty plea. All of them are free on bond. The date of their subsequent hearing is set on May 1.
“We understand that there may be some high emotions in this case, but we ask that you continue to be patient with us,” Jones said. “Everyone involved wants this case to be concluded as quickly as possible. But you all need to understand that the state of Tennessee and each of these defendants have an absolute right to a fair trial.”
A civil rights lawyer, Ben Crump was in court with Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, and stepfather, Rodney Wells.
The police shooting death of Nichols is the most recent incident to spark protests around the country and reignite a heated debate about police brutality. Black Nichols, age 29, was. The five officers who are accused of killing him are all Black.
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Police took Nichols out of his car after stopping him for what they claimed was a traffic infraction, and at least one of the policemen was armed. According to CCTV footage published by the city, Nichols was shocked by an officer but managed to flee in the direction of his close-by home.
When Nichols screamed for his mother, police officers who were a part of the Scorpion crime-fighting squad came up with him and punched, kicked, and slugged him with a baton.
The video indicated that the officers watched and chatted among themselves as Nichols battled his injuries on the ground after the attack. Video and records showed that an officer photographed Nichols while leaning against an unmarked police vehicle.
Authorities claim that Nichols was transported to a hospital in an ambulance that departed the scene of the beating 27 minutes after emergency care personnel arrived.
Authorities claimed that Nichols had been suspected of driving recklessly, but neither public records nor camera footage had revealed any conclusive proof of a traffic infraction. The stop and the officer’s actions were not supported by any evidence, according to Carolyn “CJ” Davis, the director of the Memphis Police Department. After founding the Scorpion unit in November 2021, she abolished it.
Here is a video about 5 fired Memphis police officers plead not guilty in the Tyre Nicholas murder case-
Involved in the first traffic stop was another white officer who had now been fired. A second officer has not been named and placed on administrative leave.
The Memphis Fire Department has fired three employees who were on-site during the arrest.
The family of Nichols, their attorneys, civic leaders, and activists have urged the Memphis Police Department to reform its policy regarding traffic stops, the use of force, transparency, and other areas.
Some of the victims’ family members and attorneys have complimented Davis and the department for their prompt action and stated that it should be the benchmark for future investigations into police misconduct.
The defendants entered their not-guilty pleas two days after it was made public that two sheriff’s officers who had been given a five-day suspension for their involvement in the arrest had turned off their body cameras when they arrived at the scene of Nichols’ beating.
Deputies Jeremy Watkins and Johntavious Bowers from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office broke numerous rules after they arrived at the scene of Nichols’ violent arrest on January 7, according to a statement from Sheriff Floyd Bonner.
With Nichols’ passing, lawmakers are now dealing with a fresh wave of requests for police reform.
Steven Horsford, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said in a statement, “We are calling on our colleagues in the House and Senate to jumpstart negotiations now and work with us to address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities.”
In 2021, after months of long conversations, Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina disagreed on police reform. Senators from Illinois and Illinois’ Democratic Whip Dick Durbin pushed them to meet again.
The failure of Booker and Scott to agree on a Democratic proposal to codify a Trump administration executive order that would have implemented improvements like outlawing chokeholds and no-knock warrants and enhancing federal data-gathering efforts led to the breakdown of negotiations.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would prohibit racial profiling, limit the use of excessive force, and limit officers’ qualified immunity. Although the Democratically controlled House twice approved it in 2020 and 2021, its future is still in doubt, given that the Republican Party currently holds the majority in that body.