Tennessee officials announced on Thursday that five Memphis police officers were arrested on murder charges related to the death of Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop on Jan. 7.
Body camera footage from the incident is expected to be released soon.
The 29-year-old black man was hospitalized after being pulled over for reckless driving and died from his injuries three days later. The five officers involved were fired for violating department policies after an internal investigation. All of the offending officers are black as well.
The former officers were arrested and booked into jail in Shelby County.
Each officer was charged with murder in the second degree. They were also each charged with six other felonies: aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Under Tennessee law, second degree murder involves an intentional, but unplanned, murder.
“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,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch at the media briefing where the charges were announced.
Memphis police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said that other officers may be charged over the incident.
“This is not just a professional failing,” Davis said. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who provided the initial care for Nichols were also fired.
The family and their attorneys were allowed to see the body camera footage on Monday.
“He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes. That is what we saw in that video,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci.
“Not only was it violent, it was savage,” he added.
District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN that the footage would be released to the public.
Officials expect protests and possibly violence after the video is released, and local officials are bracing for whatever emergencies might emerge.
“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. None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens,” Davis said in a video address to the public.
Here’s more about the death of Tyre Nichols:
Memphis police chief condemns treatment of Tyre Nichols: “I expect you to feel outrage”www.youtube.com
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