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Police involved in death indicted on federal charges: NPR


This combination of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and, in the bottom row on the left, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. All five former officers now face federal civil rights charges in the death of Tire Nichols, as they continue to fight second-degree murder charges in state court stemming from that killing.

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This combination of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and, in the bottom row on the left, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. All five former officers now face federal civil rights charges in the death of Tire Nichols, as they continue to fight second-degree murder charges in state court stemming from that killing.

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Five former Memphis police officers involved in the fatal beating of Tire Nichols have been indicted by a federal grand jury, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – were each charged with one count of excessive force and willful indifference, as well as two counts of criminal indifference witness tampering.

The five men also face charges in Shelby County, Tennessee, criminal court for second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and official oppression . Each of the former police officers has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them by the state.

“It is tragic to see a life cut short at age 29, with so many milestones unmet, so many words unspoken, and so much potential unrealized,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the Civil Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice, during a press conference. conference Tuesday. “Tyre Nichols should be alive today.”

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died on January 10, 2023, three days after being arrested by Memphis police for what they called reckless driving. According to initial police reports, the officers said Nichols fled the scene but was eventually arrested after two “confrontations” with officers.

Nichols had complained of shortness of breath after his arrest and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The five officers, all black, were fired by the department in late January. They each belonged to a team known as the SCORPION Unit, which was quickly deactivated after Nichols’ death.

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The screen at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans honors Tire Nichols before an NBA basketball game between the Pelicans and the Wizards on January 28. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced charges against the five Memphis police officers involved in his death.

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The screen at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans honors Tire Nichols before an NBA basketball game between the Pelicans and the Wizards on January 28. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced charges against the five Memphis police officers involved in his death.

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Effective policing requires public trust, Clarke said.

“We all know that police officers have a difficult job and that most of them carry out their jobs with honesty, dedication and integrity. But when some police officers violate the Constitution, when they use excessive force, when They ignore the serious injuries inflicted on the people they arrest, their actions erode public trust,” Clarke said.

Since January 2021, the Justice Department has filed more than 100 prosecutions involving violations of constitutional and legal rights by law enforcement officials, and obtained more than 86 convictions, Clarke said.

In May, official autopsy reports obtained by NPR showed that investigators ruled Nichols’ death a homicide.

Autopsy documents detail how Nichols, the father of a 4-year-old son, suffered blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso and extremities; multiple cortical contusions; and several cases of hemorrhages throughout his body, including his brain. Additionally, it states that he suffered multiple contusions, abrasions and contusions on his body.

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Attorney Ben Crump and relatives of Tire Nichols discuss a lawsuit filed against the city of Memphis and police officers, Wednesday, April 19, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Attorney Ben Crump and relatives of Tire Nichols discuss a lawsuit filed against the city of Memphis and police officers, Wednesday, April 19, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys representing Nichols’ family, told NPR in May that the medical examiner’s report was “highly consistent” with their independent autopsy performed in January.

“The news today from the United States Department of Justice that there will be federal criminal liability for Tyr’s death gives hope to his family as they continue to mourn his loss and d “inspire change in his honor,” Crump and Romanucci said in a statement to NPR after the federal indictment was filed.

The federal charges follow the Justice Department’s launch of an investigation into the city of Memphis and its police department for its use of force, searches and arrests and potential discriminatory policing.

In July, the DOJ announced the opening of a civil investigation, saying the purpose of the pattern or practice investigation was to discover whether there had been systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by the Memphis Police Department.

Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said his department “will continue to fully cooperate and work closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as its members conduct this next phase of their investigation.”




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