Tyre Nichols: Five police officers charged with murder of man, 29, who died after traffic stop

Tyre Nichols died in hospital three days after a traffic stop  (DEANDRE NICHOLS via REUTERS)
Tyre Nichols died in hospital three days after a traffic stop (DEANDRE NICHOLS via REUTERS)

Joe Biden has called for any protests to be peaceful after five former police officers were indicted on murder charges over the death of a black man in Memphis.

Tyre Nichols, 29, died in hospital three days after a traffic stop on January 7.

The dad-of-one was being arrested on suspicion of wreckless driving when he was allegedly beaten by five police officers for roughly three minutes.

The five officers involved in the arrest were subsequently sacked after a police investigation - and the bodycam footage of the arrest and subsequent alleged beating is expected to be released later on Friday.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has asked for calm when the video footage is made public.


“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights.”

The death has quickly drawn parallels to the killing of George Floyd, an incident which sparked nationwide protests against police violence.

David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said at the news conference he was sickened by what he saw in the police body-worn camera videos.

He said: “What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing.

“This was wrong. This was criminal.”

President Biden released a statement on Thursday appealing for calm as authorities prepare to release the footage.


“I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest,” he said. “Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.”

District attorney Steve Mulroy told a news conference yesterday that after Mr Nichols was stopped in his vehicle there was “an altercation” in which officers used pepper spray on him.

Mr Nichols fled on foot.

“There was another altercation at a nearby location at which the serious injuries were experienced by Mr Nichols,” Mr Mulroy added.

The initial Memphis Police Department statement about the death had said an ambulance was called because Mr Nichols “complained of having a shortness of breath” and that he was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Mr Mulroy confirmed the five officers were charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and official misconduct.

The Memphis Police Department identified them as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr, and Justin Smith, who are all black and aged between 24 and 32.

Memphis is awaiting the bodycam footage (Getty Images)
Memphis is awaiting the bodycam footage (Getty Images)

Each officer had served with the department for around two and a half to five years, and were dismissed from the force last Saturday.

Blake Ballin, a lawyer representing Mills, said at a news conference the former officer was “devastated to find himself charged with a crime”.

Ballin was joined by William Massey, representing Martin. both lawyers said they had not yet seen the video that would be released on Friday and were still developing their defenses.