Tyre Nichols updates: Five former officers charged over Tyre Nichols ...

27 Jan 2023
Thanks for joining us · Five police officers - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith - have been formally charged ...

Image shows a sign of Tyre Nichols

Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more

Live Reporting

Edited by Marianna Brady

All times stated are UK

Thanks for joining us

We're pausing our live coverage now - but you can read more about the Tyre Nichols case and today's events here.

Here's a recap of the key developments:

Five police officers - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith - have been formally charged The officers now face a range of charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and "official oppression" Video of the incident will be released after 18:00 local time on Friday (00:00 GMT on Saturday) President Joe Biden has offered his condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and called for a "swift, full, and transparent investigation in to his death" He's also called for "peaceful" protests as authorities, who've reportedly been briefed on the situation in Memphis, are understood to be preparing for potential unrest over the coming days

Todays writers were Sam Hancock, Bernd Debusmann, James FitzGerald, and Heather Sharp. It was edited by Marianna Brady and Chris Giles.

Here's what next

There aren't any more news conferences or events related to the Tyre Nichols case today, though the family will be attending a vigil in their community.

At 11:00 local time tomorrow (17:00 GMT) the family of Tyre Nichols will address the public for the first time, alongside attorney and civil rights activist Ben Crump and the head of Van Turner, President of the NAACP's Memphis branch.

Later, at 18:00 local time (00:00 GMT on Saturday) officials will release video of the incident.

Authorities in Memphis and elsewhere in the US are reportedly preparing for potential disturbances in the wake of the video's release.

Dispatcher claimed that Nichols was ‘fighting’

Video of the incident between Tyre Nichols and the five police officers will be released on Friday, but audio obtained by CNN gives us insight into what to expect.

Communications between a police dispatcher and the officers involved in Tyre Nichols’ traffic stop claimed that he was “fighting” after being pulled over.

The audio, which was obtained by CNN, also includes an officer suggesting to “run that tag [number plate] and see what’s the address”, suggesting that officers didn’t do so when Nichols was first stopped.

At one point, the dispatcher can be heard saying that “he’s fighting at this time”.

No further details were immediately available.

What is the 'Scorpion' unit of Memphis police?

The five officers involved in Tyre Nichols' death were reportedly members of the Memphis Police Department's 'Scorpion' unit - a specialised group within the force that has already courted controversy.

Scorpion - which stands for "Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods" is a 50-person unit with the stated mission of bringing down crime levels in particular areas, with a focus on high-impact crimes such as car thefts and gang-related offences.

In the wake of Nichols' death, local man Cornell McKinney told WREG that he had a tense encounter with the unit on 3 January, just days before the incident took place.

McKinney alleges that the officers - who were travelling in unmarked vehicles - threatened to "blow his head off", pointed a weapon at his head and accused him of carrying drugs. He complained to the Memphis Police Department after the incident but says he has not heard back.

A lawyer for Nichols' family, Antonio Romanucci, has accused the unit of misconduct in the latest incident.

“They were in unmarked cars, why are they conducting traffic stops?” he told WREG. “This is a pretextual traffic stop, which, let’s call it what it is, it’s a racist traffic stop."

President joins calls for peaceful protest

President Biden speaks at an event

Copyright: Reuters

President Joe Biden has offered his condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols, and calls for a "swift, full, and transparent investigation into his death".

His statement acknowledges that "fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted black and brown people".

Biden joins Nichols's family in calling for "peaceful protest", though cautions that "violence is never acceptable".

He refers to Nichols' death as a "painful reminder" that the US criminal justice system must be improved, adding that there are "too many places in America today" where public trust has been broken.

Biden writes of the importance of "real change" and accountability for police officers who break their oaths.

Why does this keep happening? A former officer has a theory

Chelsea Bailey

BBC News, Washington

I just had a call with Frank Sykes, a former Tennessee sheriff's deputy, who said he feels Tyre Nichols' death should force Americans to take a closer look at the way police officers are trained.

Sykes said, in his opinion, “it’s bigger than just the personal officers, it’s something that within the whole process of training, that keeps pushing these things to happen".

Officers “will judge a person off a look because you’ve been trained 'if they look this way, they’re bad’,” he said. He added that until Americans take a closer look at how officers are taught, he worries these tragic incidents will continue to happen.

“It’s going to continue creating the same outcome of us vs them,” he said.

Footage said to be worse than George Floyd's death

Footage of the incident in question is said to be "terrible, worse than [the killing of] George Floyd, worse than Rodney King", CBS News has been told.

The BBC's US partner has been speaking to senior aides of state governors in the Midwest - including the one who provided the above quote - and it seems there are concerns about the reaction the video could provoke when it's released tomorrow evening.

Authorities have reportedly been briefed on the situation in Memphis, and are preparing for potential unrest over the coming days.

Another aide told CBS that the footage was "deeply troubling".

Prayer vigil for Nichols

The family of Tyre Nichols will attend a community prayer vigil this evening.

The family is expected to give a press conference on Friday, ahead of the release of the video footage of the altercation between Nichols and police.

Race played a factor despite black officers - Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton

Copyright: BBC

Image caption: Al Sharpton speaking to the BBC

Race played a factor in the death of Tyre Nichols even if the five officers charged in his death were also African-American, according to reverend and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Speaking just now to the BBC's The Context show, Sharpton said that the crime is particularly painful because of the race of the officers.

"We fought to put blacks on the police force," he said. "For them to act in such a brutal way is more egregious than I can tell you."

Sharpton also said that he believes that the outcome would have been different if the suspect in the incident was white.

"I do not believe these five black police officers would have done this had be been a young white man," he said.

Another guest on the show, University of Maryland sociology professor Rashawn Ray, said that white and black police officers both have "similar attitudes and similar behaviours" towards "black bodies" they encounter in the line of duty.

Two officers plan to enter not guilty plea

The attorneys for officers Desmond Mills Jr and Emmitt Martin say that both officers plan to enter not guilty pleas when formally arraigned.

In his remarks, Mills's attorney, Blake Ballin, said that he urges the public to reserve judgement until all the details of the case are out.

"We are always up against the fact that the state goes first," he said. "They get started painting defendants in a negative way."

The officers are among five officers charged with murder in the wake of Tyre Nichols' death.

We're expecting video of the incident to be released after 18:00 local time on Friday (00:00 GMT on Saturday).

'No-one intended for Tyre Nichols to die'

"No-one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die," says the second lawyer involved in this press conference.

The man's death was therefore "shocking to the officers", says William Massey, who's representing Emmitt Martin III.

Massey says policing is "sometimes a thankless job" and that he expects it's probably one of the "worst fears" of an officer that this could happen to them on shift.

Desmond Mills likely feels for Nichols family, lawyer says

Desmond Mill's attorney, Blake Ballin, has said that while he hasn't discussed Tyre Nichols with his client, he believes that he probably has a strong sense of sympathy for his family.

"Knowing Mr Mills and the kind of person he is, I cannot imagine he has anything but feelings of grief for the family," Ballin said.

Both defence attorneys, however, say they are in the early stages of the case.

Neither has seen the video of the incident, which is due to be released tomorrow afternoon.

'It's causing him and his family a lot of anxiety'

More from Blake Ballin in reference to his client, Desmond Mills Jr.

"For any police officer going to jail is a traumatic moment," he says.

"He's put on a strong facade, but I know underneath it all it's causing him and his family a lot of anxiety," Ballin adds.

The attorney also confirms that he has not yet seen video showing the alleged altercation between his client and Tyre Nichols.

One of the accused men described as 'gentle, respectful'

"We have started to think about potential defences", says Blake Ballin, the lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr, one of the accused.

He says he is still "getting to know" his client, who he describes as a "gentle, respectful father".

Being accused of these crimes "hurts him on another level", Ballin adds, citing Mills's law enforcement job.

Defence lawyers begin news conference

Attorneys representing two of the five police officers involved in the Tyre Nichols' case have begun a news conference.

Blake Ballin is representing officer Desmond Mills Jr, while Bill Massey is representing Emmitt Martin.

Stay tuned for more updates.

What do each of the charges mean?

Shots of the five former Memphis police officers charged over the death of Tyre Nichols

Copyright: Reuters

Image caption: Five former Memphis police officers have been charged over the death of Tyre Nichols

The five former Memphis police officers accused of second degree murder in the death of Tyre Nichols each face the same set of charges.

Here's a quick look at what they are, and what each allegation means.

Second degree murder - defined in Tennessee law as a "knowing killing of another", which need not premeditated Aggravated assault - meaning an assault committed knowingly, which causes serious injury Aggravated kidnapping - false imprisonment of a person. It is "aggravated" if the victim suffers an injury or happens if the assailant has a deadly weapon. Each officer faces two counts of this Official misconduct - covers a range of wrongful acts by those acting as public servants. Again, each officer faces two counts Official oppression - an offence which happens when a public servant intentionally subjects a victim to mistreatment, such as arrest or detention

In five minutes, we're due to hear from a lawyer representing one of the officers.

Incident puts the focus on police brutality

When George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer, it set off a national reckoning on racial injustice.

The beating and death of Tyre Nichols is slightly different, given all five officers allegedly involved were also black.

This incident, therefore, puts the focus solely on police brutality and the excessive use of force.

The chairman of Memphis’s City Council, Martavius Jones, says the only colour that matters here is blue - the colour of the police officers’ uniforms. He says this shows the need for more police training.

And officials from the police chief to the district attorney and the director of Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation have taken great care to express to the public just how sickened they are by what they’ve seen in the video, and how it does not reflect proper policing.

WATCH: 'I'm sickened by what I saw'

A short time ago, David B Rausch - the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation - gave his reaction to video footage of Tyre Nichols' "appalling" arrest.

Video contentVideo caption: Tennessee official 'sickened' by bodycam footage

Biden briefed about incident and potential protests

US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the Tyre Nichols cases, CBS reports.

On Twitter, CBS White House correspondent Ed O'Keefe said the news outlet had learned that "various governors, state police chiefs and emergency management officials have been briefed on the situation and [are] preparing for potential protests".

The briefings come ahead of the planned release of video of the incident on Friday evening.

Here's what we know so far

The news conference with District Attorney Steve Mulroy has just wrapped up. He set out the charges being faced by the five police officers involved in Tyre Nichols' death.

If you’re just joining us, here's what we know so far.

Five police officers - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith - have been formally charged The officers now face second-degree murder charges, as well as charges of aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression Officials have said that Tyre Nichols' injuries came after two altercations with police which took place a short distance from each other Video of the incident - which has been described as "appalling" - will be released after 18:00 local time on Friday (00:00 GMT on Saturday)
Similar news