MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The five former Memphis Police officers charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Tyre Nichols were arraigned in court Friday morning.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were all terminated by the Memphis Police Department on January 21. They are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated kidnapping. The unit those officers belonged to, known as the SCORPION Unit, was disbanded shortly after Nichols’ death.
All entered pleas of not guilty. The next court date is set for May 1, and the judge said the case may take some time.
“This is the beginning of the process,” said Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, after the hearing. “I want each and every one of those police officers to look me in the face. They did not do that today.”
Nichols’ family, along with attorney Ben Crump, addressed the media in a press conference after the hearing.
“It’s important that we move swiftly toward justice, so we don’t want there to be any unnecessary delays in prosecuting this case,” Crump said.
Van Turner, president of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP, called for state lawmakers to pass police reform legislation and withdraw a bill that would weaken independent police oversight boards.
Attorney William Massey, who is representing defendant Emmitt Martin, said Thursday that the public hasn’t seen all the video evidence in the case.
“There’s a lot we don’t know,” Massey said. “There’s a lot that we don’t see, and we want to be able to present a complete picture of this stop, particularly the initial stop.”
Tadarrius Bean’s attorney, John Keith Perry, says there are a lot of untrue statements about his client. “That particular night, you’re looking at an isolated incident and [trying] to measure the person.”
Nichols, a 29-year-old father, died three days after he was beaten by officers in a traffic stop that was caught on video.
Seven more Memphis Police officers will be issued a “statement of charges” for policy violations in the case, the city’s chief legal officer last week. Three members of the Memphis Fire Department were also terminated, and two sheriff’s deputies have been disciplined.