The five former police officers in the United States will face second-degree murder and other charges regarding to the arrest and death of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died after a traffic stop.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy confirmed the charges on Thursday.
The five ex-officers identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were all in custody according to Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee .
“They stand charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law,” it read.
The five men were terminated from their jobs last week after an administrative investigation into the incident. “We worked swiftly but also fairly and most importantly in a way calculated to ensure that we have a strong case,” sheriff added stressing that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be considered.
He further explained that he hopes that silver lining from the incident would be to open a “broader conversation” about the need for police reform.“The world is watching us and we need to show the world what lessons we can learn from this tragedy,” Mulroy said.
Nichols’s family members who have seen a video of the January 7 traffic stop have said that the 29-year-old was severely beaten by the police before succumbing to his injuries at a hospital three days later.Nichols’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, stated that while he was seeking first-degree murder charges against the cops, he was “fine” with the counts filed on Thursday.
“There’s other charges, so I’m all right with that,” he said, adding that he was “ecstatic” that authorities moved quickly in the case.
In a video message released on Wednesday, Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis promised “absolute accountability” for those responsible for Nichols’s death, calling the incident “heinous, reckless and inhumane”.