The five former Memphis police officers accused of beating Tyre Nichols to death in January 2023 will face multiple federal charges, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Tuesday.
A federal grand jury has indicted Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith for violation of civil rights, conspiracy and obstruction charges for their actions surounding the death of Nichols, 29, after a routine traffic stop in January.
“Today the Justice Department informed the family of Tyre Nichols that we have charged five former Memphis Police Detectives with federal crimes in connection with the death of Mr. Nichols,” Garland stated.
Nichols was beaten on the night of Jan. 7 after a traffic stop in Memphis. The city’s police chief, Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, described the incident as “the same if not worse” than the Rodney King beating in 1991, the New York Post reported. Nichols succumbed to his extensive injuries three days later at a local hospital.
“The defendants in this case, who at the time were serving as detectives with the Memphis Police Department, brutally beat Mr. Nichols,” Garland stated, citing the indictment charges. “They then failed to render aid to Mr. Nichols and further failed to tell emergency responders that they had struck him repeatedly even as his condition deteriorated and he became unresponsive,” the attorney general continued.
Garland further alleged that as Nichols was dying in the hospital, the former police officers “conspired to cover up their crimes” with false claims that were later refuted by released body camera footage.
“We allege that the defendants charged today willfully denied Tyre Nichols of his constitutional rights and that their actions resulted in his death,” Garland concluded. “Officers who violate the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect undermine public safety, which depends on the community’s trust in law enforcement.” (RELATED: Arrested Memphis Police Officer Texted People Pictures Of Beat-Up Tyre Nichols, Department Says)
The five former officers pleaded not guilty in Feb. 2023 to charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression in connection with Nichols’ death.
Blake Ballin, a defense attorney for Desmond Mills, told CNN he and his client had been expecting the federal indictment. “As in the state case, Mr. Mills maintains his innocence. He will turn himself in on the federal indictment and continue to defend himself against all allegations in both the state and federal court systems,” Ballin stated.