Tyre Nichols was killed by five former Memphis police officers. When they first went to court, they were charged with murder and said they were not guilty.
Mr Nichols was caught on January 7 by Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith.
After the Memphis Police Department looked into them, they were fired. The death of Mr Nichols led people in the US to protest against police brutality.
The judge confirmed that the five people accused of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression had all pleaded not guilty.
If you’re interested in learning more about the case, you can do so by reviewing our past coverage of Tyre Nichols:
- Sharpton Message To Tyre Nichols 5 Black Police Officers: “How Dare You!”
- Videos Show That The First Police Report On Tyre Nichols’ Arrest Was Wrong.
Judge James Jones Jr. asked lawyers to be patient while they put together their cases. He told the defendants and their lawyers in front of him at the Shelby County Criminal Court –
“This case could take a while.”
“We do ask for your continued patience and your continued civility in this case.”
The family of Mr Nichols was in the courtroom, along with their lawyer, Ben Crump, who specializes in civil rights law.
RowVaughn Wells, Mr Nichols’s mother, talked to reporters outside the courthouse about seeing the ex-officers in person. She said –
“They didn’t even have the courage to look at me in my face.”
She promised to come to every court date until “we get justice for my son.” During the short court appearance, the ex-officers, who were dressed in suits and wore black face masks, stood quietly next to their lawyers.
During the short hearing, no one spoke. When the judge asked, their lawyers said they were not guilty. The officers were arrested and put in jail on January 26 after the Memphis police watched bodycam footage of the violent arrest of the 29-year-old.
In the video, Mr Nichols can be heard asking for his mother while police beat him after pulling him over for allegedly driving recklessly. He was hit, kicked, and sprayed with pepper spray by the police, and he died in the hospital three days later.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the incident was “not just a professional failing,” but “a failing of basic humanity towards another individual”.
RowVaughn Wells told BBC News in the past that what mattered was the race of the victim, which in this case was her son and not the race of the people who did wrong. She said –
“It’s not about the colour of the police officer. We don’t care if it’s black, white, pink, purple. What they did was wrong.”
“And what they’re doing to the black communities is wrong. We’re not worried about the race of the police officer. We’re worried about the conduct of the police officers.”
Violent arrest has caused problems for people all over the city. Five officers who were directly involved were arrested, and several other staff members were fired and are being investigated.
Also, a special unit in Memphis that was meant to fight crime has been put on hold for now. The former officers are now out on bond, meaning they are not incarcerated, their next scheduled hearing is on 1 May.