Five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder, including in connection with the death of Tire Nichols, who died three days after being stopped by the officers.
Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died on Jan. 10, three days after Memphis police stopped him for “reckless driving.”
A “confrontation occurred” between Nichols and the officers when he was stopped around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, according to an initial statement from authorities.
But “another confrontation occurred,” as officers attempted to take Nichols into custody.
“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; However, the suspect was eventually apprehended, the Memphis Police Department said. “The suspect then complained of shortness of breath and an ambulance was called to the scene.”
Nichols was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he was reportedly in critical condition before dying days later.
Notably, Memphis Police Department officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith are all black.
“I was waiting for their faces to be on TV and when I saw all the black policemen – how could you do this?” 73-year-old Memphis resident and longtime activist Carrie Louise Pinson said.
Each of the five officers joined the Memphis Police Department between 2017 and 2020, New York Times reported.
The officers were part of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION Unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods.
On Thursday, a grand jury returned indictments against all five officers on charges that include kidnapping, official misconduct, official oppression and second-degree murder.
The grand jury indictment comes after the Memphis Police Department fired every officer last week.
“The actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tire Nichols, and they are all responsible,” Memphis District Attorney Steven J. Mulroy told reporters Thursday.
Additionally, the Memphis Fire Department announced that two employees who responded to the scene have been “relieved from duty” amid an internal investigation.
A federal civil rights investigation is also reportedly underway.
Memphis officials are expected to release the body camera footage from Nichols’ traffic stop on Friday.
However, Director David Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations said the video is “absolutely horrific.”
“In a word, it’s absolutely terrible,” Rausch said.
“I’m shocked, I’m sickened by what I saw and what we learned through our investigation,” Rausch added. “Let me be clear, what happened here does not reflect proper policing. This was wrong, this was criminal.”
Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for Nichols’ family, said the video shows the officers beating Nichols like a “human piñata.”
However, community leaders and members of Nichols’ family have warned against violent protest after the body camera footage is released.
“My hope is that they all remain peaceful because the last thing we need on top of this tragedy is for a protest to get out of hand,” said Memphis NAACP PAC Chairman Ian Randolph.
“When that tape comes out tomorrow, it’s going to be terrible. I didn’t see it, but from what I hear, it’s going to be horrible. But I want each and every one of you to protest in peace. I don’t want our city to burn and tear up the streets, said Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells. “Because that’s not what my son stood for. And if you are here for me and Tyr, then you will protest peacefully.”
Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at [email protected] or follow him further Twitter.