Tyre Nichols’s Death Prompts Investigations

More than a dozen police and firefighters from the Memphis, TN, police department are under investigation after the death of a 29-year-old man. It is not entirely clear what happened, but Nichols attempted to break away from the police officers, and they simply beat him to death. Ultimately, it sounded like the man had a panic attack, and the police killed him because he was not following instructions. The incident has resulted in second-degree murder charges filed against the officers, and now, several more are under investigation for the cover-up that occurred afterward.

We say a “few bad apples” without actually completing the thought. A few bad apples literally spoil the bunch. In this case, maybe one or two guys initiate violence against an unarmed man, killing him, but they’re so void of emotional control that they do not realize it was bad until after the man is on his way to the grave. They have left bodycam footage and evidence trail a mile wide. But they are not dead yet. They still control the information. So, they beg other officers to intervene on their behalf, and now those guys are out of a job, facing criminal charges, and will never work in law enforcement again.

The law makes it clear that you are an accessory after the fact (to murder) by engaging in the cover-up. Now, none of these officers were charged as accessories, but once a defense attorney catches wind that a government official has committed official misconduct, that parcel of information will make it into every case in which they are involved. Prosecutors will not be able to use their testimony in court. They are functionally useless to the law.

Is There a Possible Defense to These Charges?

The job of the defense is typically easier than that of the prosecutor. Nonetheless, prosecutors win nearly 80% of their cases. That is to say, they secure convictions in nearly 80% of cases. Not every conviction is a win for the prosecutor. Every acquittal is a loss. 

Tyre Nichols’ death has created a George Floyd-like wave of resentment across the U.S. amid protests related to police violence. The public still doesn’t understand the need for lethal force in these situations, and police officers are doing little to establish the need. By the time the matter reaches the papers, the police are already on the defensive, staring down the barrel of a 20-year sentence. 

The police will probably say what they always say, but once the man is defenseless and on the ground, any continued violence against him constitutes battery, which makes the killing murder. The rules that apply to police officers are not different than those to apply to the general public. Police officers only get the benefit of the doubt more often because of “the job.” They are expected to violently intervene on behalf of the public, so there is a presumption of duty that goes out the window when it is five on one and the man is neutralized.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who have been charged with serious crimes. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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