DOJ Files Criminal Charges Against 5 Former Memphis Officers in Tyre Nichols Beating

Federal authorities are accusing Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith of using excessive force and violating Nichols’s rights, as well as conspiring to make false statements to supervisors while reporting the incidents and obstructing justice during subsequent investigations.

Nichols, 29, was beaten by several Memphis officers on Jan. 7 and died three days later of his injuries in an incident caught on police surveillance and body-camera footage that was released to the public amid a widespread outcry.

“The country watched in horror as Tyre Nichols was kicked, punched, tased, and pepper sprayed, and we all heard Mr. Nichols cry out for his mother and say ‘I’m just trying to go home,’” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Tuesday. “Officers who violate the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect undermine public safety, which depends on the community’s trust in law enforcement. They dishonor their fellow officers who do their work with integrity every day,” Garland said. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable officers who betray their oath.”


Warning, this is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen.

The officers allegedly spoke at the scene about how they had struck Nichols, “including hitting Nichols with straight haymakers and taking turns hitting him with so many pieces,” but they also did not relay that information to first responders or their supervisors even as his condition “deteriorated and he became unresponsive,” the indictment alleges.

The indictment also alleges the officers used their body-worn cameras to limit the capture of evidence, with Martin moving his body cam to a location where their assault of Nichols wouldn’t be captured and Haley and Smith only activating their cameras after the group attacked Nichols. After EMTs arrived, Haley and Mills removed their body-worn cameras and the group allegedly discussed their assault of Nichols making statements like, “Everybody rocking his a**, Pop pop, please fall; and I thought when he wasn’t going to fall, we about to kill this man.”

Afterward. at the police station, the group met and lied to an MPD detective about the arrest for the Incident Report, the indictment alleges, claiming Nichols had actively resisted arrest “by pulling gun belts” and grabbing one officer by his vest. Mills and Smith also falsely told the detective that “Nichols was so strong that he lifted two officers into the air.”


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