Listen to this article here
Five former Memphis police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with Tyre Nichols’ death.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. were indicted on charges relating to the deprivation of rights under color of law, including excessive force and failure to intervene as well as deliberate indifference, and conspiracy to witness-tamper, according to court records.
Nichols, 29, died on Jan. 10, three days after a violent confrontation with police following a traffic stop.
All five former officers also face state felony charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, in connection with Tyre Nichols’ death.
All five officers pled ‘not guilty’ in Tyre Nichols’ death
“Tyre Nichols should be alive today,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “It is tragic to see a life cut short at 29, with so many milestones unmet, so many words unsaid, so much potential unfulfilled. These federal charges reflect the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of every American and preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system. We stand ready to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their misconduct because no one is above the law in our country.”
Mike Stengel, ?the attorney for Haley in his state case, confirmed he will also be representing him on the federal charges.
“The indictment is disappointing, but not surprising,” Stengel told ABC News. “He’ll plead not guilty and defend himself in court.”
William Massey, who represents Martin, said, “We have been expecting it and are ready to move forward.” Bean’s attorney, John Perry, said he had no comment.
The indictment outlines in detail what prosecutors allege were efforts by the five officers to brutally assault Nichols, purposely ignore his need for immediate medical care and later seek to cover up their actions.
Tyre Nichols’ death sparked nationwide outrage and protest
Each of the defendants, according to the indictment, were involved in beating Nichols during the Jan. 7 traffic stop and none relayed information about their assault to the Memphis police dispatcher, their supervisor or the EMTs and paramedics who were coming to the scene.
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.
Officers purposely avoided using bodycams during traffic stop
ABC News reports 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.”
Officers lied about how Nichols was apprehended
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.”
The group further omitted information about how they had punched and kicked Nichols and the eventual incident report falsely stated that, “After several verbal command[s], Detectives were able to get the suspect Tyre Nichols in custody.”