Tyre Nichols killing: Memphis braces as five ex-officers charged with murder over father-of-one who was beaten like ‘a human pinata’
A grand jury has indicted five former police officers on murder and other charges in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols.
US President Joe Biden called for any protests to be peaceful following the charges on Thursday.
Nichols, 29, died in hospital three days after a confrontation during a traffic stop in the US city of Memphis, Tennessee, on 7 January.
The father of one had been arrested after being stopped for reckless driving, police said, before being allegedly beaten by the officers for three minutes.
Five black officers involved in the arrest were subsequently sacked after a police investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene and help him.
Officials are expected to release bodycam footage of the incident on Friday evening.
“We’re here today because of a tragedy that wounds one family deeply but also hurts us all,” district attorney Steve Mulroy said at a news conference.
He added that the five officers have been 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.
Each officer had served with the department for around two and a half to five years, and were dismissed from the force last Saturday.
Meanwhile, two Memphis Fire Department employees who were involved in the response were also relieved of their duties during an investigation, a department spokesperson said earlier this week.
President Biden said in a statement: “Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.
“Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all.”
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said on Wednesday that other police officers remain under investigation for police infractions.
In a video shared on YouTube, she asked for calm when the bodycam footage is made public.
“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels. I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights,” she said.
“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.”
Several recent incidents of police brutality against black people in the US have sparked outrage and calls for reforms in policing.
Second-degree murder will go a considerable distance in meeting public’s expectations
America has been here before. A black man dead at the hands of police officers, brutality captured on camera.
Rodney King and George Floyd are just two names that define a deadly dysfunction in the institution that exists to protect and serve.
Now add Tyre Nichols – 29 years old, a father and family man who worked at FedEx and enjoyed skateboarding. “Nobody’s perfect,” said his mother RowVaugn. “But he was damn near.”
We are told the events leading up to his death are contained in a video lasting an hour, multiple angles of what has been trailed as a savage assault.
A lawyer for the Nichols family spoke of him being beaten “like a human pinata”. The Friday night release of the footage is shrouded by a sense of dread.
Experience shows it is shocking video content of a sort liable to ignite violent street protests and, in Memphis, they are aware of the danger. It explains why the build-up to the release of the footage has been choreographed around charges for the police officers involved.
In a place where the public demands accountability, laying charges of second-degree murder will go a considerable distance towards matching expectations. Murder in the second degree accuses the officers of knowingly killing Mr Nichols.
Does it make a difference that the five men in uniform were black? Perhaps. Time will tell if, and how, that plays into the wider public response.
Much of the reaction, so far, has focused on the power that police have and the inclination to abuse it with deadly consequences. In video form, evidence of it will soon be laid bare – and Memphis is braced.
The Nichols family watched the police footage on Monday with their lawyer, Ben Crump, who compared the beating to the 1991 Los Angeles police assault on Rodney King that was captured on video and sparked protests and police reforms.
“He was defenceless the entire time. He was a human pinata for those police officers,” Antonio Romanucci, Mr Crump’s co-counsel, told reporters.
Mr Crump said Nichols’ last words heard on the video were of him calling for his mother three times.
Gwyneth Paltrow wins high-profile civil court case against man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing
Gwyneth Paltrow has won a high-profile civil court case against a man who claimed she crashed into him while skiing.
She was awarded $1 in damages after the jury found retired optometrist Terry Sanderson was “100%” at fault for the skiing accident.
The jurors deliberated for two hours on Thursday after hearing eight days of evidence.
Paltrow, dressed in a navy blazer jacket and striped shirt, did not react when the verdict was announced.
In a statement released after the verdict, she said she was “pleased” with the outcome.
“I felt that acquiescing to a false claim comprised my integrity,” she said.
“I am pleased with the outcome and I appreciate all of the hard work of Judge Holmberg and the jury, and thank them for their thoughtfulness in handling this case.”
Mr Sanderson, 76, sued the Hollywood actress for $300,000 (£242,000), saying the 2016 collision on the slopes of Utah left him with several broken ribs and severe brain injuries.
Paltrow, who is also a lifestyle influencer, denied the claims, alleging Mr Sanderson crashed into her at the Deer Valley resort, and caused her to lose “half a day of skiing”.
She counter-sued him for the awarded amount of $1 and her legal fees.
During the court case in Park City, jurors heard evidence from a variety of medical experts, ski instructors, and members of both Mr Sanderson and Paltrow’s family, including the actress’ children Apple and Moses Martin.
Mr Sanderson said he had become a “self-imposed recluse” after the incident and had been advised never to ski again in case of further injury.
But Paltrow’s lawyers showed photos of him enjoying multiple holidays after the accident.
Oscar-winning actress Paltrow, 50, said she felt “very sorry” for Mr Sanderson but reiterated that she was not “at fault” for the crash.
Mr Sanderson said he had been told by medical experts that travelling would be “healing” for him and that he had struggled during his trips.
Donald Trump indicted: Who is Stormy Daniels and what is former president accused of doing?
Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in New York, making him the first ex-president to face criminal charges.
The case against him centres on a $130,000 (£105,000) payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Live updates – Prosecutors launch first ever criminal case against former president
What is Trump accused of doing?
Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006, which the former US president denies.
In 2016 when he was running for president, she offered to sell her story to the press.
Mr Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen was notified of her plans, resulting in a $130,000 (£105,000) payment being made to keep Ms Daniels quiet.
Once he was elected, Mr Trump reimbursed Mr Cohen by paying him more than double the original amount. He continued to deny the affair, however.
New York investigators have been looking into the former president’s finances for years – originally led by former District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
But when he was replaced with Alvin Bragg in 2022, Mr Bragg decided to drop the grand jury investigation into claims the Trump empire fraudulently inflated its real estate value.
Instead he decided to focus on the hush money case last summer, impanelling a grand jury (one assembled in secret to determine whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute) in January.
Soon after Mr Cohen, who was jailed on several counts in 2018, was summoned by prosecutors.
According to court documents, Mr Trump falsely listed his former lawyer’s reimbursement as “legal services”.
What charges could Trump face?
It is not yet known what Mr Trump will be charged with.
But among the options for prosecutors is an accounting fraud charge over the payment made to Mr Cohen.
They could also decide to indict him on campaign fraud charges – as silencing Ms Daniels’s claims could have helped propel him to power.
Mr Trump has described the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt”.
Donald Trump faces criminal charges over alleged hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels
Donald Trump has been indicted on criminal charges arising from an alleged hush money payment to an adult film actress.
A grand jury in New York voted to indict Trump over possible offences related to a $130,000 (£105,000) payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
It was allegedly made in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an alleged sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier.
He is the first former US president to face criminal charges in court, even as he makes a bid to retake the White House in 2024.
Trump, a Republican, said he was “completely innocent” and called the indictment “political persecution”, with his lawyers saying they will “vigorously fight” it.
Live updates: Prosecutors launch criminal case against Trump
The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation centred on accusations of money paid to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom Trump allegedly feared would go public with claims they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.
Trump, 76, has denied having affairs with either woman.
His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said he co-ordinated with Trump on the payments to Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, and also to McDougal.
Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 related to the payments and served more than a year in prison.
Federal prosecutors said Cohen acted at Trump’s direction.
Trump said: “The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference.”
“Never before in our nation’s history has this been done.”
He added: “I believe this witch-hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden.”
Trump says investigations ‘straight out of Stalinist Russia horror show’
Who is Stormy Daniels?
How many investigations is former US president facing?
Trump was expected to surrender to authorities next week.
He has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation by district attorney Alvin Bragg.
His office has spent nearly five years investigating Trump and the grand jury has been hearing its evidence since January.
Trump son hits out at indictment
On Twitter, one of Trump’s sons, Eric, wrote: “This is third world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.”
Amid speculation in recent weeks that the former American leader was due to be indicted, Trump urged his supporters to protest against the authorities if he was detained.
He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.
Other ongoing cases Trump faces include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January 2001 insurrection at the US Capitol.
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