Several former Memphis police officers are facing charges, including second-degree murder, in the death of Taya Nichols, according to Shelby County criminal court records.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy is expected to provide an update on the investigation into the arrest of Taya Nichols by Memphis police in her death at 2 p.m. CT Thursday that will include the announcement of criminal charges, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN’s Don Lemon.
The source also said authorities expected to release police video of the arrest on Friday. One of the five employees fired after Nichols’ death has been charged and extradited, attorney William Massey said. Massey represents former employer Emmitt Martin III. The lawyer said he was not aware of the allegations.
The announcement of the expected criminal charges comes about three weeks after Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, was hospitalized after a traffic stop and “conflict” with Memphis police officers. Family law took a brutal blow.
Nichols died from his injuries on January 10, three days after his arrest, authorities said. The five Memphis police officers, who are also black, were fired for violations of the use of excessive force, duty to intervene and duty to assist, the department said. Other Memphis police officers are still being investigated for departmental violations related to the incident, the chief said.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis condemned the actions of the police who carried out the arrest as a “flagrant violation of humanity” and called for peaceful protests in front of the video of the arrest.
“It’s not just a professional failure. It’s a human being’s senselessness to another human being,” Davis said in a YouTube video Wednesday, his first on-camera statement about the arrest. “This incident was horrific, senseless and cruel, and clearly Look, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see it for yourself.”
The prosecutor said a decision on whether to charge him is forthcoming. A lawyer representing one of the police officers will hold a press conference following the district attorney’s update on Thursday.
Authorities have not released the video of the arrest, but Nichols’ family and lawyers saw the video on Monday. They said the video showed police brutally beating Nichols and compared it to the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police in 1991.
Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe blow,” prosecutors said, citing preliminary results from an autopsy they provided. Nichols’ arrest and subsequent death comes amid scrutiny over police treatment of black people, especially since the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May 2020 and the protests known as Black Lives Matter.
Davis, the first black woman to serve as Memphis police chief, said she expects the release of the video in the coming days to provoke the public and urge citizens to take action. the power between “our anger and our frustration”.
“I expect our fellow citizens to use their First Amendment rights to protest to demand action and consequences. But we must ensure that our community is safe in this process,” Davis said. “None of these things are a calling card to incite violence or destruction in our community or against our citizens.”
On January 7, Memphis officers arrested him on charges of reckless driving, police said in their first statement about the incident. When police arrived at the vehicle, a “struggle” ensued and Nichols fled on foot, police said. He was chased by police and had another “struggle” before he was taken into custody, police said. Nichols then complained of shortness of breath, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died three days later, police said.
In a Memphis police audio investigation, one person said there was a “black man running” and called to “establish an area.” Another message says “he is fighting now”.
Attorneys for the Nichols family who viewed the video of the arrest on Monday described it as a brutal three-minute beating by police. Human rights attorney Ben Crump said Nichols was grabbed, pepper sprayed and restrained, and family attorney Antonio Romanucci said he was kicked. “He doesn’t protect himself all the time. He is a human piñata for these police officers. It was a pure and embarrassing beating of this boy for three minutes. That’s what we saw in this video,” Romanucci said. “It’s not only violent, it’s wild.”
Police identified five fired employees as Martin, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. All of them had joined the department in the last six years, police said. Memphis police have fired five officers in connection with the death of Tire Nichols. Above: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III. Below: Desmond Mills, Jr., Justin Smith
Memphis police have fired five officers in connection with the death of Tire Nichols. Above: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III. Below: Desmond Mills, Jr., Justin Smith
Memphis Police Department
In addition, two members of the city’s fire department who were part of Nichols’ “primary patient care” have been relieved of their duties, a fire department spokesman said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced an investigation into Nichols’ death, the Justice Department and the FBI opened a civil rights investigation.
The video of the incident could be released this week or next week, Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates on Tuesday night, but he wants to make sure his office interviews all those involved before they release it. release the video so it doesn’t affect their statement. Prosecutors are trying to speed up the investigation and can make a decision on possible charges “at the same time we’re considering releasing the video,” Mulroy said.
Nichols’ family wants police charged with murder, Romanucci told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday night.