Five officers who beat a black youth to death in Memphis indicted for murder | International

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Relatives and supporters of Tire Nichols's cause hold up a photo of the young man in the hospital at a news conference Monday in Memphis.Gerald Herbert (AP)

Tire Nichols is the latest proper name to enter the infamous history of police brutality in America. He was 29 years old and a four-year-old son. He worked at FedEx.

It was black. A group of five officers, also African-American, beat him to death in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 7, after they stopped him for "reckless driving," according to the report. This Thursday, the five police officers have been prosecuted for, among other crimes, second degree murder. Just for that charge, they can fall from 15 to 60 years.

Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean, who had already been fired from the force, are also charged with aggravated assault and kidnapping for their actions during Nichols' arrest, which at first instance he escaped on foot from the agents, who ended up arresting him about thirty meters from his house. He died three days later in the hospital from the beatings.

Mugshots of cops (from left) Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.
Mugshots of cops (from left) Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith. PA

The case has captured national attention this week after the victim's family gained access to body camera footage of one of the police officers on Monday. Later, they explained that they had seen him punched, kicked and electrocuted with a stun gun.

"The brutality was extreme," the boy's stepfather said at a news conference Monday. “He didn't deserve that. (...) What the video shows is horrible. No father or mother should go through that pain." One of his lawyers offered, for his part, a graphic description that made its way into newspaper headlines: Nichols, he said, was a "human piñata for those policemen."

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That footage has not yet been made public, although it is expected to see the light "after 6:00 p.m. on Friday," as promised at a press conference on Thursday Steven Mulroy, attorney general for Shelby (Tennessee), a county that includes Memphis. Clearly, the authorities fear the rage that some images that the famous lawyer specializing in black civil rights, Ben Crump, who has taken charge of the case, could unleash in the city compared to those that went around the world in 1991. , when Rodney King was brutally beaten by the Los Angeles police in a traffic jam. Unlike Nichols, King survived. The officers were acquitted, which unleashed several days of street riots in the Californian megalopolis in 1992 and opened a debate on police brutality that this country is far from having resolved.

In an attempt to bandage the wound, Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, who is also African-American, released a video statement Wednesday night, describing the beating as "appalling, reckless and inhumane." to then ask the community to remain calm when the video sees the light. “I hope our citizens will exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results,” said Ella Davis. “But we need to make sure our community is safe until this happens. This cannot be an excuse to incite violence or destruction in our community or our citizens." The official version is that the video has been kept hidden so as not to obstruct the ongoing investigation.

The release of another recording of a savage act of police brutality, in which a white Minneapolis officer was seen suffocating African-American George Floyd with his knee, sparked a wave of mass protests at home and abroad in 2020, under the slogan Black Lives Matter (Black Lives Matter), three words that became a summary of systemic racism in the United States, as well as the excessive use of force by the police.

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