Judge blocks city’s release of video in Tyre Nichols case

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:56 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:48 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The release of additional footage and documents related to the Tyre Nichols investigation has been put on hold.

Attorney Blake Ballin, who represents Desmond Mills, filed a motion to stop the release of additional footage in relation to the investigation into Tyre Nichols’ death.

A hearing was held Wednesday morning, city officials confirmed, and the judge signed off on the order.

“In a response to a Motion for Protective Order filed by attorneys for defense this morning, the Criminal Court of Tennessee for the 30th Judicial District Division 3 has ordered that no video, audio, or records related to the City’s administrative investigation may be released until further order by the court,” a statement from the city’s Chief Communications Officer Allison Fouche said.

Shelby County District Attorney’s Office released a statement voicing its support for the release of the footage:

Ballin released a statement on behalf of his client that says:

City leaders had planned to release 20 additional hours of footage on Wednesday.

City of Memphis Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink said the footage would be released in a similar manner to the release of previous footage that was released on January 27.

“We’re going to do it in a public way,” Sink said.

Sink also said the administrative hearings for all officers involved have been completed.

“The Memphis Police Department and Memphis Fire Department have been conducting administrative investigations to determine if any employees violated policies with respect to their involvement to the Tyre Nichols matter. These are not criminal investigations; these are administrative investigations. At this stage, the investigation has been concluded,” said Sink.

She was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

In the last videos, we saw 30 minutes of body-worn video near the intersection of Raines and Ross Road where Tyre Nichols was originally pulled over by Memphis police.

We saw a sky-cop video without audio, at the location where Nichols was beaten yards away from his home.

We also saw body-worn videos of that same location near Nichols’ home.

With the additional footage, we can expect to hear more dialogue and interaction between those involved in the incident on the night of January 7.

The records and charges related to these investigations will also be released.

City Council Chair Martavius Jones gave his reaction to the news of the delay.

“Disappointment, but it’s part of the process,” Jones said.

Jones said the public has already seen all it needs to see, as far as video is concerned, but there is some additional context and background he would like to have from the night that resulted in Nichols’ death.

“I would like to see the information leading up to the stop,” said Jones. “What has been part of the narrative, the false narrative, is the fact that this was reckless driving. I was hopeful that any additional footage would show what happened prior to them coming to the intersection of Raines and Ross Road.”

“The judge is just trying to make sure that we’re going to have a fair trial by not tainting the jury pool,” said Memphis Defense Attorney Michael Working.

We spoke with Working to give us his professional insight on the situation since Ballin was unavailable for comment.

Working said when it comes to releasing video in situations like this, the city and the judge are on two separate pages.

“The city is trying to be transparent and deal with a moment of crisis. They’re trying to be transparent and release records,” Working said. “The judge has a very different goal, and that is to ensure that these officers are given a fair trial.”

It’s a ruling Jones is inclined to agree with, despite his disappointment in the result.

“I can understand the defense attorney’s standpoint,” Jones said. “As someone who’s been trying to push transparency, trying to give the public as much information as possible, it’s a disappointment.”

Sink says four Memphis Fire Department employees and 13 Memphis Police Department employees have been disciplined in the Tyre Nichols case.

One Memphis police employee was able to retire before being fired.

Three MFD employees were fired and one was given a suspension.

Of the 13 officers, seven were fired, three were suspended, two had charges dismissed and one resigned.

Five officers have been charged criminally: Demetrius Haley, Emmett Martin III, Justin Smith, Desmond Mills Jr, and Tadarius Bean all face second-degree murder charges.

The next court appearance for those five is set for May 1.

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