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FIVE fired Memphis police officers were charged on Thursday with murder and other crimes in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told a news conference that although the officers each played different roles in the killing, “they are all responsible.”
The officers, who are all black — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
Video of the January 7 traffic stop, which is set to be released to the public on Friday evening, shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault that the legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
Mr Nichols’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, told reporters that he and his wife, RowVaughn Wells, who is Mr Nichols’s mother, discussed the second-degree murder charges and are “fine with it.” The family had originally sought first-degree murder charges against the cops.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation director David Rausch told a new conference: “Let me be clear. What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.”
Activists and clergy led the group in prayer and a drummer played a steady rhythm to lead into the spoken part of the vigil. Afterwards, skaters rode their boards as Ms Wells and her husband watched.
The attorneys for Mr Nichols’s family, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, issued a statement saying that Mr Nichols “lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop.”
The Reverend Al Sharpton, who runs the National Action Network and will deliver the eulogy at Nichols’s funeral service next week, called the charges “a necessary step in delivering justice” for Mr Nichols.
“There is no point to putting a body camera on a cop if you aren’t going to hold them accountable when the footage shows them relentlessly beating a man to death,” Reverend Sharpton said.
He said: “Firings are not enough. Indictments and arrests are not convictions. As we’ve done in the past, we will stand by this family until justice is done.”
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