Tyre Nichols death: 5 Memphis cops plead not guilty to murder, lawyer says 'my client is a black man in America'

Tyre Nichols death: 5 Memphis cops plead not guilty to murder, lawyer says 'my client is a black man in America'
Five Memphis cops charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter over the death of Tyre Nichols appeared at court along with their lawyers (GoFundMe, WBIR/YouTube screengrab)

Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers' discretion advised

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: Five Memphis cops who brutally beat Tyre Nichols who later died, appeared before a judge in court on Friday, February 17, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault. The attorney for one of the police officers claimed that as a "black man in America," he was being persecuted on unfair grounds.


Along with their lawyers, the officers Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills Jr, and Justin Smith appeared at the Shelby County Criminal Court in Memphis Tennessee. All five of them who will be returning to court in May have now pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and murder, reported the Daily Mail.


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Tyre Nichols' murder court hearing

(L-R) Tadarrius Bean, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., Justin Smith and Demetrius Hailey (Memphis Police Department)
(L-R) Tadarrius Bean, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr, Justin Smith and Demetrius Hailey (Memphis Police Department)


The cops shielded their faces as they wore COVID-19 masks during their court appearances. The murder case was adjourned on Friday and the court hearing ended within a few minutes after it started. Judge James Jones Jr addressed the courtroom and explained that "this case can take some time" while he requested everyone for their “continued patience” and ”continued civility.” Jones said, “We understand that there may be some high emotions in this case, but we ask that you continue to be patient with us,” and he further added, “everyone involved wants this case to be concluded as quickly as possible. But it’s important for you all to understand that the state of Tennessee, as well as each one of these defendants, have an absolute right to a fair trial.”

At the court, RowVaugh Wells, mother of Nichols, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells along with their lawyer Ben Crump were present for the hearing and it is the first time Nichols' family came face-to-face with the police officers.


'My client is a black man in a courtroom in America'

Desmond Mills Jr's attorney talked to reporters outside the court and told them that he should not be "wrongfully convicted of murder" and claimed that he was innocent. The attorney Blake Ballins then went on explaining about the justice his client deserves and said, "The nation's heart is filled with grief. These emotions should be channelled into the way we police our communities. My client is a black man in a courtroom in America. This is a country where black people are seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people. Much has been said about how the system has failed Mr Nichols I will work to make sure the system does not fail Mr Mills. Justice for Mr Nichols will not be achieved at the expense of justice for Mr Mills. I implore the public to be patient, and cautious," according to Daily Mail.

What happened to Tyre Nichols on January 7?

Bodycam footage of five Memphis cops attacking Tyre Nichols on January 7 was released and it was revealed that he had to wait 22 minutes for the ambulance following the brutal assault. He was arrested for what the cops claimed was because of a case of reckless driving. The officer who was part of 'Scorpion', a crime suppression team pulled over Nichols' vehicle and punched him when he came out of his vehicle. Nichols' yelled for his mother as the officers kicked and attacked him with a baton.


On January 10, three days after the incident, Nichols died in the hospital where he was treated. All five of them were fired following an internal investigation and Memphis Police Director Cerelyn 'CJ' Davis who created the 'Scorpion' then disbanded the unit. Other than the five cops, one white officer involved in the incident was fired and an additional officer was suspended, according to New York Post.

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 Tyre Nichols case: 5 Memphis cops plead not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and assault