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Tyre Nichols: Ex-Police Officer Pleads Guilty in Deal With Prosecutors

One of five ex-police officers facing charges in the death of a 29-year-old black man in Memphis has pleaded guilty to felony charges of using excessive force and obstruction of justice.

Desmond Mills Jr, 33, was among the group of black officers filmed kicking and punching Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop in January.

Mr Nichols died three days later.

As part of a plea deal, Mills agreed to cooperate in the case against four other officers.

The remaining men – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – have pleaded not guilty to state charges including second-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

They also face federal civil rights charges in a trial scheduled to start in May 2024.

On 7 January, the officers stopped Mr Nichols on suspicion of reckless driving and pulled him from his car. They punched, kicked, tasered and pepper sprayed him.

In bodycam footage, Mr Nichols could be heard calling for his mother as he was beaten. An autopsy report found Mr Nichols died of blunt force injuries.

Video of the incident was later released to the public and sparked widespread protests against police brutality across the US. The Memphis Police Department fired the officers after the attack.

As part of Thursday’s plea deal, Mills admitted repeatedly striking Mr Nichols with a baton, failing to intervene when others joined in the beating and neglecting to provide medical assistance or ask other emergency responders for help. He also admitted to making false statements to investigators.

A judge will sentence Mills at a later date, and federal and state prosecutors have recommended that the former officer be given 15 years in prison, according to a statement released by Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

“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,” Mr Mulroy said in the statement.

“His cooperation will help us bring to justice all those criminally responsible while also identifying needs for systemic reform within the police department.”

The department is facing a lawsuit from the Nichols family, which alleges the city’s negligent hiring practices and poor training led to their son’s death.

The five officers were members of a special unit of the Memphis Police called Scorpion, which deployed to high-crime areas, often in unmarked vehicles.

The four remaining defendants could face up to life in prison on federal charges and up to 60 years in prison on state second-degree murder charges.

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