Former Memphis police officers plead not guilty in Tyre Nichols killing News
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Former Memphis police officers plead not guilty in Tyre Nichols killing

The five former Memphis police officers implicated in the death of Tyre Nichols Friday pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and various other crimes. The pleas came during the officers’ first court appearance on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official suppression and official misconduct in relation to Nichols’ beating and death.

During the arraignment, Judge James Jones Jr. warned the former officers that the proceedings “may take some time” as prosecutors collect evidence and turn it over to the defense attorneys. The officers will appear in court again on May 1 so that the defense teams have enough time to review the evidence against their clients.

Tyre Nichols died in a Memphis hospital three days after the former officers brutally beat him following a traffic stop. The beating was caught on video by officers’ body cameras and a camera mounted on a nearby pole. The officers, part of an anti-gang unit known as SCORPION, pulled Nichols over for alleged reckless driving. However, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis later told CNN there is “no proof” that Nichols was driving recklessly. The Memphis police disbanded SCORPION after Nichols’ killing.

Nichols’ killing has galvanized nationwide protests and reignited concerns about police killings of Black Americans. The protests come nearly two years after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, which itself sparked a wave of prolonged demonstrations across the US. Nichols’ death has also drawn parallels to the Los Angeles Police Department beating of Rodney King. Though King did not die as a result, his beating still catalyzed six days of riots in Los Angeles in 1992.