Home National news Memphis officers maintain innocence in Tyre Nichols’ death

Memphis officers maintain innocence in Tyre Nichols’ death

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Former Memphis police officers accused of murder in the death of Tyre Nichols appear with their attorneys at an indictment hearing at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center Friday, Feb. 17, in Memphis, Tenn. They pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in the violent arrest and death of Nichols (AP photo by Brandon Dill).

by Associated Press

Five former Memphis police officers pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree murder and other charges in the violent arrest and death of Tyre Nichols, with his mother saying afterward that none of them would look her in the eye in court.

Tadarrius Bean; Demetrius Haley; Desmond Mills, Jr.; Emmitt Martin III; and Justin Smith made their first court appearances with their lawyers before a judge in Shelby County Criminal Court. The officers were fired after an internal police investigation into the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who died in a hospital three days later. His beating was caught on video.

At a news conference after the hearing, Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said the officers didn’t have the courage to look her in the eye. But “they’re going to see me at every court date, everyone until we get justice for my son.”

“I feel very numb right now,” Wells said. “I’m waiting for this nightmare, basically, that I’m going through right now—I’m waiting for somebody to wake me up. I know that’s not going to happen.”

The officers pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression. They are all out on bond. Their next hearing is scheduled for May 1.

The Nichols case is the latest to prompt nationwide protests and renew an intense public discussion about police brutality. Nichols, 29, was Black. All five officers charged in his death also are Black.

Addressing the courtroom, Judge James Jones, Jr. asked for patience and civility: “This case can take some time.”

“Everyone involved wants this case to be concluded as quickly as possible,” Jones said. “But it’s important for you all to understand that the state of Tennessee, as well as each one of these defendants, have an absolute right to a fair trial.”

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