13 September 2023

Five police officers charged with civil rights crimes after Tyre Nichols killing

13 September 2023

Five police officers in Tennessee are facing a string of federal indictments for civil rights violations, nine months after the fatal bludgeoning of Memphis man Tyre Nichols.

Now-ex-police officers Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith were indicted in the US District Court in Memphis.

The ex-officers have been charged with deprivation of rights under the colour of law through excessive force and failure to intervene, and through deliberate indifference; conspiracy to witness tampering; and obstruction of justice through witness tampering.

The indictment says the officers failed to tell emergency dispatchers, their supervisor and emergency medical officers they knew Mr Nichols had been hit repeatedly.

Instead, they allegedly tried to cover up their use of force and shield themselves from criminal liability.

The latest charges also claim the five used their body cameras to limit what evidence could be captured at the scene.

One officer moved his body camera where it would not show video of the beating; whereas two others activated theirs only after the assault.

The five men also face second-degree murder charges after Mr Nichols died due to his injuries three days later.

As per claims by the police who mauled the Memphis man, Mr Nichols had been pulled over for driving recklessly.

They pulled Mr Nichols from his car before pepper spraying and tasering him.

Mr Nichols managed to break free and ran towards his mother’s house, which was just under a mile from where the attack began.

But he never made it there, with the beating continuing with punches, kicks, and strikes to the 29-year-old with a baton as he cried for his mother.

Mr Nichols was taken to hospital in critical condition and died three days later.

The five former officers, all black like Mr Nichols, have pleaded not guilty to state charges of second-degree murder and other alleged offences in the case.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a video statement after the indictment: “We all heard Mr Nichols cry out for his mother and say ‘I’m just trying to go home’.”

He added: “Tyre Nichols should be alive today.”

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