3 of 5 former MPD officers charged in Tyre Nichols case plea to have cases tried apart

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:34 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 7:07 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s been a busy week for the five former Memphis police officers charged in the murder of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.

All five defendants face multiple charges, including second-degree murder. Friday, three of the defendants’ attorneys made passionate pleas to try their clients separately.

Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith and Desmond Mills’ attorneys filed motions asking that either they have individual trials or have the three officers tried together separate from MPD officers Emmett Martin and Demetrius Hailey.

”I’d rather have the three good guys in the room with the other guys, because the jury is going to be able to look and say these guys are doing their jobs,” said Smith’s attorney Martin Zummach.

Nichols died in January after being beaten by multiple police officers during a traffic stop just yards away from his home.

Nichols was allegedly pulled over for reckless driving.

Investigations later revealed Nichols was never driving recklessly.

The beating was caught on video.

The three attorneys who filed for a motion to sever say their clients were not present at the initial traffic stop near Ross and Raines Roads.

”They get a call that says, ‘We have a fleeing suspect who has been Tased and sprayed.’ They have a duty to come apprehend that fleeing suspect. They have no idea if he’s a rape suspect, robbery suspect, they don’t know if he’s been patted down. If he’s been armed,” said Zummach.

Autopsy results ruled Nichols died as a result of blunt force trauma.

The five ex-police officers have been charged with second-degree murder with the argument all five officers acted together in concert.

”It’s terrible, but we all saw the same men all wearing the same uniforms, all taking part of a brutal beating all together at the same time,” said state prosecutor Paul Hagerman.

Nichols’ parents were present for Friday’s hearing but declined to speak to the media.

The five former officers are all facing federal charges in addition to the state charges they were indicted on in January.

But Hagerman told the judge that should not hinder their case.

”Our answer is absolutely not. We want to proceed full steam ahead,” said Hagerman.

Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Justin Smith, and Emmit Martin lll have all pleaded not guilty to the four federal charges handed down earlier this week. The five men were also arraigned and released on $50,000 bonds.

They’ve entered the same ‘not guilty plea’ for the state charges they’re facing as well.

The Memphis Police Department determined five former officers violated multiple policies including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.

Many of the attorneys for the suspects say they were expecting the federal indictments.

“This is a very serious set of charges, there’s no doubt about that. He’s taking this very seriously. It’s concerning, of course to him and to me and to everyone involved in it. We’re ready to get started with it,” said Bill Massey, the attorney representing Emitt Martin III.

The next court date will be October 5 to rule on the motion to sever.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy also said Judge James Jones ruled in favor of a motion to release more videos and discovery to the public.

That additional discovery could be released as early as next week.

The judge also said November 6, they would meet again for a pre-trial hearing to start the process of setting a court date.

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