A Tennessee grand jury indicted five former Memphis police officers on murder and other charges in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, reports ABC News.
At a news conference on Thursday, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced that Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmit Martin, and Desmond Mills Jr., have each been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.
“While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols, and they are all responsible,” Mulroy said.
David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, joined Mulroy at the news conference to announce the charges.
“In a word, ‘it’s absolutely appalling. Let me be clear, what happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal,” Rausch said.
“Nothing we do today or did today precludes the addition of any further charges regarding any of the people [involved],” Mulroy added.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, the attorneys for the Nichols family, issued a statement responding to the charges. “The news today from Memphis officials that these five officers are being held criminally accountable for their deadly and brutal actions gives us hope as we continue to push for justice for Tyre,” the attorneys' statement read.
“This young man 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 statement continued.
On January 7, Nichols was arrested by Memphis officers which led to him being admitted to the St. Francis Hospital where he was listed in critical condition after a physical confrontation with the attending officers. During his arrest, he complained about having trouble breathing. Nichols died three days after his arrest. Last week, all five officers were fired for using excessive force during the incident.
Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis of the MPD said that all five officers were “directly responsible for the physical abuse” of Nichols and the video footage that captured the behavior of the officers was “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.”
“I expect our citizens to exercise their first amendment right to protest, to demand action and results, but we need to ensure our community is safe in this process,” Davis said. “None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.”
When the officer's body cam footage was viewed by Crump and Romanucci, the attorneys said that Nichols did not run when he was approached by officers, and he said to them that "he was just trying to get home" from FedEx, his place of employment. Toward the end of the video, Nichols can be heard screaming for his mother three times.
"Our son ran because he was scared for his life," Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, said. "He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no gun, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life."
On Friday, the city of Memphis is preparing for protests and demonstrations when the body cam footage of the fatal encounter is released to the public for the first time.
Per the report, footage from the incident was captured by body-worn cameras worn by police, cameras mounted on dashboards of police squad cars, and security cameras on utility poles throughout the area.
Those who witnessed the footage have described it as extremely disturbing.
"You are going to see acts that define humanity,” Davis explained. “You're going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we are all sworn to."
Although an official autopsy has not been completed, Romanucci said that a medical examination ordered by the family determined that Nichols was severely beaten by the officers and his death was the result.
"The results indicate that what we saw in the video are consistent with a severe beating, and our independent medical examiner has authorized us to quote that the injuries are consistent with a severe beating, meaning that the hemorrhage that was found was so deep that it could only be caused by blunt force trauma," Romanucci noted.
Bonds are set at $350,000 for Martin and Haley, and $250,000 for Bean, Mills, and Smith.
All former officers are currently being investigated by the Department of Justice and the Memphis police department.