Tyre Nichols’ Mother ‘Nightmare’ Continues after Officers Plead Not Guilty  

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, cries as she is comforted by Tyre’s stepfather Rodney Wells, at a news conference with civil rights Attorney Ben Crump in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) via www.nbcnews.com

By Perla Brito and Julie McCaffrey 

MEMPHIS, TN – Tyre Nichols’ family and its attorney, Ben Crump, said Friday their “nightmare” continues, after five former Memphis police officers plead not guilty to the murder of Tyre Nichols.

The five former Memphis police officers, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Emmitt Martin, III, were all charged with second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. They were fired from the Memphis Police Department.

They stopped Nichols on Jan. 7 for an alleged traffic violation, which officials later said had no justifying evidence. Nichols was beaten by five police officers for three minutes during this stop. Three days after the stop, Nichols died due to extensive bleeding caused by the severe beating.

The bodycam footage showed 29-year-old Nichols crying out for his mother.

The arraignment comes after numerous protests that have taken place across the country after the video footage of Nichols’s arrest and beating was released (CNN).

All five former police officers entered not guilty pleas on their first court hearing at Shelby County Criminal Court Friday.

After the arraignment, Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, stated she “feel[s] very numb right now,” and is “waiting for someone to wake [her] up from this nightmare right now.

“I know my son is gone, I know I’ll never see him again, but we have to start this process of justice right now,” Wells said. Attorney Van Turner added that “this case is going to be a landmark decision” that may lead to police reform, and he implored the State to pass the Tyre Nichols Police Reform Act.

Wells added that while she expected the officers to plead not guilty, she believes they will be found guilty during the jury trial. If so, the officers will be sentenced to 15 to 60 years (NPR).

After Wells gave her statement, she agreed to answer a few questions. One reporter asked, “What did you think when you heard the words not guilty?”

Wells responded, “Well, sir they’re gonna say that. You know that’s the procedure that everyone’s gonna say. I’m gonna leave it up to the district attorney’s office to get them prosecuted and everything and they’ll find them guilty. Them saying they’re not guilty is a preliminary thing, everybody’s gonna say that and I was expecting it so it wasn’t nothing new.

“I want each and every one of those police officers to be able to look me in the face. They haven’t done that yet, they didn’t even have the courage to look at me in the face after what they did to my son,” Wells continued. “They’re going to see me at every court date until we get justice for my son.”

The five officers are due back in court May 1.

About The Author

Perla Brito is a 4th year undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice and is set to graduate by Spring 2023. After graduation she plans on working at a local police department in the criminal investigations division. She intends to pursue a Masters in Psychology with a focus in Neuroscience in hopes of working on neurocriminology research one day.

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