A federal grand jury has indicted the five Memphis police officers involved in the January killing of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, according to court filings on Tuesday.
The indictment comes months after officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — all Black men — were captured on body camera footage brutally beating Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop. The killing led to a Justice Department investigation into the department’s policing.
The department fired the officers in January, and in February, they each pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other state-level charges.
The new eight-page federal indictment filed on Tuesday charges each officer with two counts relating to deprivation of rights, one count of conspiracy to witness tamper and one count of obstruction of justice.
The indictment accuses the officers of intending to “omit material information and provide false and misleading information to cover up [their] use of unreasonable force on Tyre Nichols to shield” them from being held accountable.
The grand jury also accused the officers of removing their body cameras.
An attorney for Haley said the former officer plans to plead not guilty. “The indictment is disappointing, but not surprising,” attorney Mike Stengel told ABC News on Tuesday.
Nichols died three days after the traffic stop beating. An autopsy found the cause of death was blunt force trauma.
The five officers were members of a controversial team called the Scorpion unit, which was later disbanded after Nichols’ high-profile killing resulted innumerous protests and discussions around Blackness and policing.
“The news today from the United States Justice Department that there will be criminal accountability on the federal level for Tyre’s death gives his family hope as they continue to grieve his loss and inspire change in his honor,” attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who represent Nichols’ family, said in a statement on Tuesday.
They added that they applauded Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who leads the Justice Department’s civil rights division, “for their tireless efforts to create federal accountability for these officers who were selected to be part of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION unit and savagely ended Tyre’s life, setting a critical precedent for accountability and justice.”