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5 former Memphis officers charged with murder in death of Tyre Nichols

Tyre Nichols, 29, was hospitalized and died after a traffic stop by police.
/ Source: TODAY

Five former Memphis police officers have been taken into custody and charged in the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, jail records show.

Emmit Martin, Justin Smith, Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills and Demetrius Haley, who were fired last week from the Memphis Police Department following an administrative investigation, were arrested Jan. 26 after a traffic stop that led to the hospitalization of Nichols and his death three days later.

All are charged with second-degree murder, according to the Shelby County Jail records, as well as official misconduct, aggravated kidnapping, official oppression and acting in concert to commit aggravated assault.

Jail records show that bond for Haley and Martin has been set for $350,000 and for Bean, Mills and Smith is $250,000.

Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after he encountered the five former officers during a traffic stop.

Officials said Nichols was pulled over for alleged reckless driving on Jan. 7 in Memphis. The department said a "confrontation" took place and that the officers followed Nichols when he fled the scene on foot.

A second confrontation between Nichols and the officers occurred, according to the department, where the 29-year-old said he was struggling with shortness of breath.

The arrest of the five former officers comes after they were terminated from the department on Jan. 20 following an internal investigation. Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis said Jan. 25 the five men were “found to be directly responsible for the physical abuse” of Nichols. Other officers within the department are still under investigation for violating department policies, she said.

"This is not just a professional failing," she added. "This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless and inhumane."

Davis also spoke to Memphis residents directly: "I am not wavering in my commitment to you to have a police force that is here to serve and protect you. Those five officers and others failed our community and they failed the Nichols family, and that is beyond regrettable."

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said in a Jan. 26 press conference that video of the traffic stop will be released publicly Jan. 27 and that portions will be redacted to protect the privacy of third parties.

Following news of the five indictments of the ex officers, the Nichols' family and their attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, shared a statement.

"The news today from Memphis officials that these five officers are being held criminally accountable for their deadly and brutal actions gives us hope as we continue to push for justice for Tyre," the statement said. "This young man lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop."

The statement referred to Nichols' death as "needless and unnecessary."

"Tyre’s loved ones’ lives were forever changed when he was beaten to death, and we will keep saying his name until justice is served," the statement concluded.

NAACP Memphis branch President Van Turner addressed Nichols' death before the charges were announced.

"It’s devastating that these are five African American officers and obviously Tyre Nichols was an African American man, but it doesn’t matter who’s behind that badge," Turner said during an appearance on MSNBC. "Wrong is wrong. And when you victimize and you murder someone for a traffic stop, you have to be held accountable. And that’s what the NAACP is fighting for in this particular case."