(NewsNation) — Five Memphis police officers have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of motorist Tyre Nichols after a violent arrest, officials announced at a news conference Thursday.
At the same conference, it was announced that the release of video footage of the arrest is set for after 6 p.m. CT on Friday.
“I’ve seen the video. In a word, it’s absolutely appalling,” David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said. “Let me be clear. What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.”
President Joe Biden offered his condolences to Nichols’ family and called for a “full and transparent” investigation in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
“As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest,” it read in part.
Biden pleaded with potential protesters to eschew violence.
“Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice,” he said.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith, who were involved in the arrest, were fired last Friday after a police probe determined they used excessive force or failed to intervene and render aid.
Online records list these as the reasons for the bookings:
Smith – Two counts of official misconduct, official oppression, second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.
Bean – Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Haley – Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Martin – Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Mills Jr. – Second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
One of the officers, Haley, was accused previously of using excessive force in a 2016 federal civil rights lawsuit while employed by the Shelby County Division of Corrections. These claims were ultimately dismissed after a judge ruled the plaintiff failed to file a grievance against the officers within 30 days of the incident.
“While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols and they are all responsible,” District Attorney Steve Mulroy said.
On Thursday, the attorneys for Nichols’ family issued a statement praising the charges.
“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,” Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci wrote. “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.”
Court records don’t list attorneys for Smith, Bean or Haley. The Associated Press reported that Martin’s lawyer, William Massey, confirmed that his client had turned himself in. He and Mills’ lawyer, Blake Ballin, said they planned to discuss the charges at a news conference later Thursday.
Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.
Attorneys for Nichols’ family said at a news conference Monday that the 29-year-old FedEx worker and father was treated like a “human piñata” in a “savage” encounter they compared to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
Video the family saw on Monday showed that Nichols was shocked, pepper sprayed and restrained after being pulled over on Jan. 7. He was pulled over minutes from his house for reckless driving while returning home from a suburban park, where he had taken photos of the sunset.
A day after the encounter, police said in a statement that “a confrontation occurred” as officers approached the vehicle and Nichols ran. As officers caught up to him, police claimed, “another confrontation” occurred while taking him into custody. Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital. He died three days later.
Relatives accused the police of beating Nichols and causing him to have a heart attack and kidney failure.
The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the arrest, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether excessive force was used.
“We all want the same thing,” Mulroy said. “We want justice for Tyre Nichols. It’s my hope that if there is any silver lining to be drawn from this very dark cloud, is that perhaps this incident can open a broader conversation about the need for police reform.”
Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis released an earlier statement calling the events surrounding NIchols’ death “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.”
“This is not just a professional failing,” she said in a video released Wednesday. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual.”
This is a developing story. Refresh the page for updates.
The Associated Press and NewsNation local affiliate WREG contributed to this report.