- On Tuesday, five former Memphis police officers involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols were charged in federal court for violating Nichols' civil rights.1
- The four-count indictment charged each with wilfully depriving Nichols of his constitutional rights under the 'color of law' through excessive force, failure to intervene, and deliberate indifference, in addition to conspiring to tamper with witnesses and obstruction of justice through witness tampering.2
- The federal charges come nine months after the officers violently hit Nichols following a traffic stop that resulted in his death three days later. The defendants have pleaded not guilty to state charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and official misconduct.3
- Nichols' autopsy had reportedly revealed sustained blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso, and extremities; multiple cortical contusions; and sustained multiple contusions, abrasions, and bruising to his body.4
- Each of the two civil rights charges carries a maximum punishment of life in prison, while the other two counts are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.3
- Meanwhile, the Dept. of Justice has launched a formal investigation into the Memphis Police Department to examine allegations that it follows 'a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct and discriminatory policing based on race.'5
- Narrative A, as provided by CNN. The indictment of the five officers responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols is what justice should look like in America. Officers who abuse their authority and betray their oaths destroy public relationships and trust nationwide. This announcement sets a new precedent, puts officers on notice that they are not above the law, and signals that using their badge to apply excessive force, intimidate, and kill will not go unpunished.
- Narrative B, as provided by Associated press. Increased crime in Memphis has forced law enforcement to lower the requirements to become an officer, putting many new, untrained, and inexperienced officers on the beat. Even more so, what is notably missing from the police department are veteran, tried, and actual supervisors. Having a seasoned officer in charge, who would have stepped in and superseded the actions of those five young officers, could have avoided this tragic ending.