Former Memphis police officer pleads guilty to federal charges in killing of Tyre Nichols News
© WikiMedia (Thomas R Machnitzki)
Former Memphis police officer pleads guilty to federal charges in killing of Tyre Nichols

Former Memphis police officer Desmond Mills Jr. pleaded guilty on Thursday to excessive force and conspiracy charges for the death of Black motorist Tyre Nichols, becoming the first of the five Memphis police officers charged to admit guilt.

In his plea agreement, Mills admitted to “repeatedly and unjustifiably striking Nichols with a baton and to failing to intervene in other officers’ use of force against Nichols.” Mills also admitted to making “false statements in connection with the arrest of Nichols.” In exchange for cooperating with prosecutors, they recommended a 15-year sentence instead of life imprisonment, under which he also pled guilty to related Tennessee charges. However, the final sentencing rests with the judge.

In response to the plea agreement, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, in a news release stated, “I join Tyre’s family in saying this is a fair result, given Mr. Mills’ level of involvement, and his willingness to cooperate with us. His cooperation will help us bring to justice all those criminally responsible while also identifying needs for systemic reform within the police department.”

On January 7, 29-year-old Tyre Nichols died in the hospital three days following an interaction with Memphis police officers. Officers stated that they pulled Nichols over for driving recklessly, which was contested by Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis.

Released video footage revealed the violent incident by the five former Memphis officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – all charged with his death.

Mill’s sentencing hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 22. The remaining four defendants will face a federal trial on May 6, 2024.