Five former Memphis officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was brutally beaten by police during a traffic stop, have pleaded not guilty.
According to CNN, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr. pleaded not guilty on Friday (February 17) to all the charges brought against them — second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression — for their involvement in the death of Nichols, who died three days after being beaten during a January 7 traffic stop.
In Tennessee, second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 to 60 years in prison.
Police footage shows the officers repeatedly punched, kicked, and hit Nichols with a baton during the traffic stop on January 7. Nichols was hospitalized following the beating but ultimately succumbed to his injuries on January 10.
The five officers, who were a part of the department’s SCORPION unit, which has since been deactivated, were fired after an internal investigation and charged on January 26.
They are due back in court on May 1.
According to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, prosecutors will have to prove that the officers knowingly killed Nichols, which under state law means “they acted in such a way that they were reasonably certain that their actions could cause death.”
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