(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — Tyre Nichols’ mother vowed to attend every court date for the five former Memphis police officers accused of murder in connection to the traffic stop beating of her son at a press conference Friday as the officers pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance.
“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 couldn’t even do that today,” Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, told reporters after the arraignment. “They didn’t even have the courage to look at me in my face after what they did to my son. So they’re gonna see me at every court date.”
Nichols’ parents and their attorney, Ben Crump, were in the courtroom as the five former officers made their brief appearance. None of the former officers spoke.
The five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were fired and arrested on charges including second-degree murder following Nichols’ beating during a Jan. 7 traffic stop.
Nichols, 29, was hospitalized and died three days later.
Graphic footage of the traffic stop was released to the public last month and sparked nationwide outrage.
A sixth officer was fired and a seventh has been relieved of duty in the wake of Nichols’ death. More officers could receive administrative discipline and the district attorney said additional charges could be filed.
At Nichols’ funeral, family attorney Crump said that Nichols’ legacy “will be one of equal justice.”
“It will be the blueprint going forward, because we have to remember that in less than 20 days … they were terminated, they were arrested and they were charged,” he said of the officers.
Nichols’ family is now urging Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would mandate accountability for police misconduct, address racial profiling and limit use of force for police officers.
The five former officers are set to return to court on May 1.
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