DOJ Charges 5 Ex-Memphis Cops in Death of Tyre Nichols 

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces charges against the five Memphis cops. Screenshot: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed federal criminal charges against five former Memphis police officers accused of severly beating Tyre Nichols. 

The officers —Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were charged with civil rights offenses, obstruction and witness tampering following the death of Nichols in January. 

The charges in Federal District Court in Memphis include two counts of deprivation of rights under color flaw, excessive force, failure to intervene, deliberate indifference, and witness tampering. 

“The country watched in horror as Mr. Nichols was kicked, punched, tased and pepper sprayed — we all heard Mr. Nichols cry out for his mother and say, ‘I’m just trying to go home,’” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a video statement. “Officers who violate the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect undermine public safety, which depends on the community’s trust in law enforcement. They dishonor their fellow officers who do their work with integrity every day. The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable officers who betray their oath.” 

On the state level, the men have already pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges. 

The officers were captured on surveillance video and body cameras kicking and bludgeoning Nichols after a routine traffic stop on Jan. 7. 

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black FedEx worker, died a few days later. 

All five officers are Black. 

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said Nichols “should be alive today.”

“It is tragic to see a life cut short at 29, with so many milestones unmet, so many words unsaid, so much potential unfulfilled,” Clarke said. “These federal charges reflect the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of every American and preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system. We stand ready to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their misconduct because no one is above the law in our country.”

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