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Ex-Memphis officers charged with murder in brutal beating of Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop

Five former Memphis police officers were charged with second-degree murder Thursday in the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop, authorities said.

Ex-officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, who are all Black, were charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, one count of official oppression, aggravated assault-act in concert and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in the death of Nichols, according to the Shelby County Sherriff’s Department.

The encounter occurred Jan. 7 and was captured on police body cameras.

Memphis police and law enforcement agencies across the country were bracing themselves Thursday for reaction to the release of video showing the brutal beating of Nichols, who died earlier this month after the encounter with police.

The possible release of the video of the incident — which could be released Thursday afternoon by the Shelby County district attorney — put police departments, including the LAPD, on notice across the country as they brace for demonstrations.

“This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane,” said Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis in a video statement Wednesday evening. “When the video is released in the coming days you will see this for yourselves.”

Davis, taking an apologetic tone in her address, urged citizens to peacefully express their 1st Amendment rights while saying the disturbing video must not be a “calling card for inciting violence.”

Nichols died on Jan. 10 following the encounter with police, during which he was pulled over and arrested by officers on suspicion of reckless driving, according to Memphis police. When officers approached Nichols’ car, a confrontation occurred and Nichols fled the scene on foot, police said.

The police pursued Nichols and another “confrontation” took place, which led to Nichols’ arrest and subsequent hospitalization, police said.

Officers and Nichols were just 100 yards from the victim’s parents’ home during the encounter, according to Jennifer McGuffin, the chief spokesperson of Romanucci & Blandon, the law firm representing Nichols’ family.

The video shows Nichols being tased, pepper sprayed, beaten and restrained for three minutes, according to McGuffin. Nichols called for his mother and told officers he wished to go home, McGuffin said.

The day after the incident, while Nichols was hospitalized, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation launched an inquiry into the use-of-force incident at the request of the local district attorney.

Less than two weeks after the incident, the police department announced the termination of the five police officers who were involved in the confrontation.

LAPD spokesman Warren Moore told The Times that the department is actively preparing for possible protests.

“We’re setting up different watches and making sure we have the proper resources out,” the officer said.

The department is “flirting with” going to A and B watch, which would mean all officers work 12 hours on and get 12 hours off, an expensive action that makes more officers available than regular.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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