The five former Memphis Police Department officers implicated in the violent arrest that led to the January death of Tire Nichols pleaded not guilty Friday in their arraignment for criminal offenses related to the brutal beating of Nichols seen on video after a police traffic stop.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. face charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Second degree murder in Tennessee is considered a Class A felony punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison.
The former officers are due back in court on May 1. Their lawyers found them not guilty on their behalf. Nichols’ family members sat in the back of the courtroom with his attorney Ben Crump.
During the hearing in Shelby County Criminal Court, Judge James Jones urged both sides to be patient as the case may take some time.
The officers were arrested and taken into custody on January 26 after Memphis police reviewed body camera footage of the violent arrest.
In the footage, Nichols, 29, can be heard calling for his mother as he is beaten by police after being pulled over for alleged reckless driving. The officers pepper-sprayed, kicked and punched him, and he died in hospital three days later.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the incident was “not just a professional failure” but “a failure of basic humanity toward another individual.”
It may interest you:
– What did each of the 5 police officers who beat Tire Nichols to death do?
– How was the Scorpion Unit to which the agents who brutally beat Tire Nichols belonged and who are now accused of murder
– Memphis authorities release video of violent police arrest that caused the death of Tire Nichols
Source: La Opinion