The five former police officers charged in the death of Tire Nichols in Memphis have said they are innocent. They did so at their first arraignment before a judge in the US state of Tennessee.
Nichols, 29, died in a hospital on January 10. He had been arrested three days earlier for reckless driving.
When he was arrested, he was beaten by officers. Footage showed Nichols being forcibly removed from his car and then punched and kicked, calling out for his mother. The issue sparked a renewed debate in the United States about excessive police brutality, particularly against black people.
Judge asks for patience
Five officers, who are also black, are on trial for five charges, including second-degree murder. That amounts to a serious form of manslaughter. They are also suspected of, among other things, serious assault and misconduct by a civil servant.
The five, who have been fired from the police force, deny all charges. They are free on bail. The next hearing in their case is on May 1.
The judge called on everyone to exercise patience. “We understand that there is a lot of emotion involved in this matter, but we ask you to be patient,” he said. “Everyone has the right to a fair trial.”
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