The five Memphis police officers involved in the deadly beating of 29-year-old Black man Tyre Nichols have been arrested, The New York Times reports.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith have been charged with second-degree murder according to jail records. They are also facing charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, and official oppression. The 29-year-old was hospitalized following the arrest during a traffic stop, and died from his injuries three days later.
The five officers, who are also Black, were fired as a result of Nichols’ brutal beating because they violated numerous policies, including ones of excessive use of force, and duty to render aid. Several other officers from the department are currently under investigation for other policy violations tied to the case.
In a pre-recorded statement released on Wednesday (Jan. 25), police chief Cerelyn Davis condemned the violent actions of officers involved in the arrest of Nichols during a traffic stop on Jan. 7. She called the violent arrest “a failing of basic humanity” in her first on-camera comments regarding Nichols’ death, CNN reports.
“This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves,” she said. Davis added that she expects Memphis citizens to express “outrage and frustration” in response to the footage, but called for a nonviolent reaction. “I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest to demand action and results. But we need to ensure our community is safe in this process,” Davis said. “None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.”
Nichols was pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving, and reportedly got into two “confrontations” with police before he was taken into custody.
Ahead of the public release of the footage, Nichols’ family and attorneys were shown the video and compared it to the fatal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles officers in 1991. “He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes. That is what we saw in that video,” said family attorney Antonio Romanucci. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”
President Biden issued a statement condemning the action of the police.
He called Nichols’s death “a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.”