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Memphis Officers Charged Before 'Appalling' Video Released

One day before the release of a potentially incendiary video of the fatal beating of a man by Memphis police, and less than a week after the officers were fired, the Shelby County district attorney charged the officers with second-degree murder and other charges, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. The former officers were booked and released on bail in the death of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after a Jan. 7 traffic stop near his mother's home. “While each of the individuals played a different role in the action in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols,” District Attorney Steve Mulroy said, calling the video of the beating "absolutely appalling." Explaining the aggravated kidnapping charges against the men, Mulroy said, "At a certain point in the sequence of events, it is our view that if it was a legal detention to begin with, it certainly became illegal at a certain point and it was an unlawful detention." Other charges include aggravated assault-acting in concert, official misconduct and official oppression. The New York Times described the elements of each charge.

Officials, while bracing for potential civil unrest and calling for peaceful protests, plan to release footage from body-worn cameras at 6 p.m. local time on Friday. Nichols' family was able to view the footage from the incident Monday and hosted a press conference afterward with their attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci. Romanucci said Nichols was "kicked" and was the subject of "multiple uses of force" during the "unadulterated...beating of [Nichols] for three minutes." The five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills, Jr., all of whom, like Nichols, are Black — joined the Memphis Police Department in the last six years. The Commercial Appeal reported that Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said earlier that other officers will be investigated for department policy violations and that the department will conduct a "complete and independent" review of its specialized units. The five officers facing criminal charges belonged to an MPD unit called SCORPION, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods, launched in November 2021 to focus on preventing auto theft and gang-related violence.


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