Five officers charged in death of Tyre Nichols appear in court


(MEMPHIS) — Five former Memphis police officers appeared in court Friday after several motions were filed in the case concerning their alleged involvement in the death of Tyre Nichols.

A deadline for discovery from all parties – which includes information about witnesses or evidence to be used in the case – has been set for the next court date, Aug. 18.

The officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr. – have received several felony charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping. They have all entered not guilty pleas.

Nichols, 29, died after a confrontation with police following a traffic stop. He died on Jan. 10, three days after the violent confrontation.

Body camera footage released by the Memphis Police Department shows officers beating Nichols and targeting him with pepper spray as he begins yelling for his mother, who lived near the site of the encounter.

Officers can be seen in the footage standing over Nichols while he’s on the ground. As two officers hold him down, a third kicks him.

A fourth officer comes over with a baton and the officers pick up Nichols from the ground and hold him up while officers appear to strike him in the face and torso, the footage shows.

The Memphis Police Department has since deactivated its SCORPION Unit, the task force at the center of Nichols’ death.

Ahead of their Friday court appearance, attorneys for Smith and Bean filed motions asking to separate their trials from the other officers, according to ABC affiliate in Memphis WATN.

In the reported filings, Smith’s attorneys argue that he was not at one of the two scenes that have been presented as video evidence. They argue a jury might decide Smith to be in some way responsible for the actions of his fellow former officers if they are tried together.

The news outlet reported that Bean’s motion similarly argued there were “various responses” to the incident and “each officer initiated different levels of physical contact with the suspect.” His attorneys said a jury might convict him based on the actions of the other officers.

Attorneys for Mills and Martin previously told reporters that their clients were “devastated” about the charges.

In a statement to NBC affiliate WMC, Mills’ attorney Blake Ballin encouraged the public to “use caution and patience in judging Mills’ actions.”

In comments to CBS affiliate WREG, Martin’s attorney William Massey said: “It’s gonna be a difficult case. No doubt about it. I’m aware of the effect that the video has, but we don’t have all of it yet.”

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