Two Former Officers Charged in Tyre Nichols’ Death Ask to be Tried Separately

June 23, 2023

Two fired Memphis police officers who have been charged in the beating and death of Tyre Nichols filed motions this week to have their cases tried separately from the others.

Tadarrius Bean and Justin Smith were charged with murder in the incident, which was caught on video, along with fired officers Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and Desmond Mills Jr.

Nichols died three days after the beating, which began as a traffic stop. Police body camera video shows that Nichols fled the initial encounter at his car in the middle of a city street, which started when officers approached Nichols with force that was disproportionate for the alleged offense of “reckless driving.” That’s according to a statement from a disciplinary hearing for another fired officer Preston Hemphill, who drew his gun while approaching Nichols.

When officers caught up with Nichols several blocks away, both police body cam video and pole-camera video of the street scene shows that he was beaten unconscious and then propped up against a parked car. Three EMTs have been fired for not responding to Nichols as he fell over onto his side several times before an ambulance finally arrived.

According to authorities, the ambulance left the location of the beating 27 minutes after emergency medical technicians arrived.

Attorneys for Smith and Bean filed the motions in Shelby County Criminal Court Wednesday.

“Bean and Smith never punched or kicked [Nichols], and after he was successfully secured Bean and Smith are seen sitting [Nichols] up and checking on his ability to breathe,” Bean’s attorney John Keith Perry wrote in the motion. 

The motion goes on to say, “Video evidence shows that not every officer participated in the arrest with the same conduct….Bean and Mills were over 1 mile away when the initial interaction took place.”

Perry further asserts that jurors might confuse one defendant with specific arguments being made against another defendant during trial.

“When a case is being tried with multiple defendants who have been charged with multiple offenses, the sheer volume of evidence, along with the arguments for and against each piece of evidence could potentially be a source of confusion,” Perry writes in the motion.

Along with the criminal case, Nichols’ family is suing the fired officers and the city of Memphis, blaming them for the 29-year-old’s death.

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