Five former police officers from the town of Memphis (Tennessee) are in custody and face various criminal charges for having beaten to death Tyre Nicholsa young African-American man who was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation, official records show.
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The defendants, all African-American, were expelled from the police force last week, after authorities determined that they were directly responsible for the death of the 29-year-old, who took three days to die from his injuries.
The five retired police officers were indicted for manslaughter, assault and batteryas well as kidnapping, announced prosecutor Steve Mulroy during a press conference.
President Joe Biden demanded this Thursday in a statement a “quick, complete and transparent investigation” of the case.
I heard him call his mother… that’s what really strikes a chord with you
On January 7, police officers wanted to arrest Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old African-American, for a traffic violation. As the agents approached, a “confrontation took place” and “the suspect fled,” the public force explained at the time.
Nichols was hit by the agents, but he complained of having difficulty breathing during the arrest and was hospitalized. He died three days later.
Tennessee law punishes this crime with up to 60 years in jail. A video of the arrest, which has already been shown to the victim’s parents, It will be made public this week or next.
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They will see acts that defy humanity and a disrespect for life
The Memphis Police Chief asked citizens to If you are going to demonstrate, do it peacefully. anticipating the citizen response to the video.
“I heard him call his mother… that’s what really strikes a chord with you,” said the Memphis Police Chief in an interview where he revealed details of the video of the beating of Nichols, which will be made public in the coming weeks.
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He also confessed that in the video “You will see acts that defy humanity and a disrespect for life” He added that the images he saw are “worse” than those of the Rodney King case, another brutal event of police violence in the United States that occurred more than 30 years ago.
According to the lawyer representing the victim’s family, the images show the five agents attacking the young man with electric shocks and pepper spray. The beating lasted about three minutes.
Details are not yet clear
The videos of the events were shown to the victim’s relatives and their lawyers at first. According to them, “the police beat him to the point where he was not recognizable.” However, the details of the arrest are still not entirely clear.
“It’s a beating, pure and simple, without interruption, of this young man for three minutes,” said Antonio Romanucci.
Although the authorities have not described precisely the way in which the events were carried out, the director of investigation of Tennessee, David Rausch, he claimed it was “criminal” and “inadmissible”. “In a word, it’s awful,” he said.
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#BREAKING: One of officers involved in Tyler Nichols brutal killing heard in newly released videos saying: “He’s high as a mother fucker”; other officers seen laughing while Nichols was laying on ground seriously injured pic.twitter.com/DHB62TgmDC
— IEN (@BreakingIEN) January 28, 2023
This act was hateful, irresponsible and inhumane
Lawyers for the family, including the famous Ben Crump, welcomed the news. “It gives us hope while we will continue to demand justice for Tire,” he said. The five accused officers were fired last week.
Police internal investigation showed that they used excessive force. Other police officers are under investigation.
The accused officers are “directly responsible for the physical violence committed against Mr. Nichols,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said on Wednesday, estimating that it was not “just a professional error, but a lack of humanity”. “This act was hateful, irresponsible and inhumane.”
The video of the arrest was released on Friday in social networks.
“I think they’re going to be shocked” when they see the footage, Davis admitted. In her statement, Biden called for protests that can be unleashed to be “peaceful.” “Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable,” she added.
The issue finds a particular echo in a country still marked for the death of George Floyd, in May 2020 during a police intervention, and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, against racism and police violence.
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“We cannot ignore the fact that deadly police interventions hit Black people the hardest“, recalled the president, who has urged Congress to pass a law to reform the police.
But the proposal, adopted in the House of Representatives in 2021, has not been approved by the Senate. Since the death of George Floyd, the US Congress has been unable to adopt ambitious police reform, not even a ban on chokeholds.
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