CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

5 former Memphis police officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death plead not guilty

Feb 17, 2023, 8:38 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2023, 5:40 pm

The Five officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death pleaded not guilty Friday, February 17. Top:...

The Five officers charged in Tyre Nichols' death pleaded not guilty Friday, February 17. Top: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III. Bottom: Desmond Mills, Jr., Justin Smith Mandatory Credit: Memphis Police Dept.

 (CNN) — Five former Memphis Police Department officers pleaded not guilty Friday at their arraignment on criminal charges connected to the January death of Tyre Nichols, whose brutal beating after a police traffic stop was seen on video.

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

The former officers are due back in court on May 1. Their attorneys entered not guilty pleas on their behalf.

Second-degree murder in Tennessee is considered a Class A felony punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN one challenge for prosecutors will be proving the defendants knowingly killed Nichols — which under state law means “they acted in such a way that they were reasonably certain that their actions could cause death.”

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was repeatedly punched and kicked by the officers charged following a traffic stop and brief pursuit on foot on January 7. Nichols was hospitalized after the beating and died three days later.

Mulroy said his office is still looking into “people who showed up after the beating had concluded” and were “involved directly or indirectly in the death.”

“We’re going to do what we can as quickly as I can — but thoroughly — and we’ll be making decisions about charges regarding all of those people and in the time ahead,” he said.

The five officers, who are also Black, were fired following an internal investigation and were indicted on January 26.

The following day, body camera videos and surveillance footage from the arrest were released, demonstrating the severity of the beating to the public and drawing widespread condemnation from residents and police officials alike. Protesters marched and vigils were held in Memphis and other major cities across the US, decrying the latest example of police brutality seen on video and calling for police reform.

The five charged officers were part of the department’s SCORPION unit, which was launched in 2021 to take on a rise in violent crime in Memphis. Shortly after the video footage of Nichols’ arrest was released, Memphis police announced the unit would be permanently deactivated as a sign the department was taking “proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted,” according to a January 28 statement.

Mulroy said his office has begun a review of prior cases involving the former SCORPION unit as well as the officers involved in Nichols’ death.

“We’ll also take a look at any other case that a defense attorney will bring to us if they have some … credible reason for thinking that the case might be suspect,” said Mulroy, adding that “manpower issues” are a concern in the “time-consuming process.”

Sixth officer fired, others face discipline

As the cases against the five officers move forward, fallout from the violent arrest continues for other members of law enforcement and first responders who were on the scene.

A sixth Memphis officer was fired but has not been charged, authorities said. Additional Memphis police officers may face further discipline, City Attorney Jennifer Sink told CNN last week.

Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies who were at the scene of the arrest were found to have violated department policies and suspended for five days each without pay, according to a sheriff’s office statement obtained by CNN affiliate WHBQ.

Three Memphis Fire Department personnel were fired for their failure to promptly render emergency care to Nichols after the arrest, according to the fire department. In a letter to the Memphis City Council, Thomas Malone, president of the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, defended their actions, saying they “were not given adequate information upon dispatch or upon arrival on the scene.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

The male driver of a silver sedan who police believe had their car stolen by the man accused of kil...

Michael Houck, KSLTV.com

Police search for witness of the driver accused of killing a Santaquin officer

Police describe the driver as a man with a ponytail. This is part of the investigation into the death of Santaquin officer Sgt. Bill Hooser

20 minutes ago

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill talks to members of the media on March 31, 2023. On Thu...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Officers found legally justified in Murray and Taylorsville police shootings

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Thursday that officers involved in two police shootings were legally justified.

11 hours ago

Chase W. Pollock reportedly hit a white Audi at the 1300 South 2100 East in Salt Lake City. He has ...

Emma Keddington

SLPD files charges against man accused of a hit and run on Mother’s Day

The Salt Lake Police Department filed charges Thursday against 40-year-old Chase W. Pollock, in connection to a critical hit and run that happened on Mother's Day.  

12 hours ago

A gas leak in Sugar House has caused evacuations, a road closure and the closure of Sugarhouse Park...

Devin Oldroyd

Sugar House Park reopen after gas leak shuts it down Thursday afternoon

A gas leak in Sugar House has caused evacuations, a road closure and the closure of Sugar House Park. Authorities are still working on this.

14 hours ago

chad daybell shown, chad daybell trial...

Sam Herrera

Chad Daybell not called to testify in murder trial, defense rests

The defense team for Chad Daybell said Daybell would not take the stand during his murder trial.

20 hours ago

A woman charged last month with sexual battery after she allegedly tugged on another woman's skirt ...

Ashley Imlay, KSL.com

Woman in St. George skirt-pulling incident fired from Utah AG’s office, records show

A woman who was filmed and went viral in St. George skirt-pulling incident has been fired from her government job.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

5 former Memphis police officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death plead not guilty