MEMPHIS, Tenn. — No criminal charges have been filed against the five officers who were fired after Tyre Nichols’ death, but the officers are preparing for that possibility as the TBI and FBI investigate.
Most of us—lawyers included—have not seen the video yet. However, an attorney representing one of the officers said criminal charges will come down to what we see and who we see doing it, which could determine each officer’s future.
Desmond Mills Jr. is described as a father, a musician, and a civil servant. But most recently, he’s known as one of the five officers accused of beating Tyre Nichols to death on January 7.
As an attorney, Blake Ballin has worked on several notable cases in Memphis, representing Sherra Wright and one of the teens accused of carjacking and killing a pastor over the summer.
Ballin was hired as Mills’ attorney back when allegations started and Mills, along with four other cops, was fired from the Memphis Police Department for employment violations in Nichols’ case. He spoke to us on Mills’ behalf Wednesday.
“He absolutely never thought he would find himself being investigated for anything like this because he’s dedicated his life to two things: to his family and to serving his community,” he said.
Ballin said Mills explained his version of events the day Nichols was allegedly beaten by the officers during a traffic stop but says he can’t discuss that in detail. But when the long-awaited video of the incident is released, it could answer a lot of questions.
“We are just hopeful in viewing this video each of these officers is treated as an individual. Even though all five have been investigated, all five have been fired, that doesn’t mean that all five have engaged in the same actions,” he said. “So it remains to be seen, once I see the video, once everybody else does, what, if any, crimes have been committed and by whom those crimes may or may not have been committed.”
However, Ballin added that video also can cause some challenges in the case, especially one gaining national attention like this one. It could create bias, he says, that makes it difficult for a fair trial, should his client be charged.
“I don’t know when and where this will be released, I don’t know by who it will be released. There are a lot of considerations that need to be thought about, a lot of things that need to be thought about before releasing a video like this,” he said. “And obviously the community has a right to see what kinds of things are going on locally. So it’s a really difficult balance to test for a lot of government agencies.
Right now, though, Ballin said he doesn’t know much more information than the general public. It’s a waiting game and he’s ready for what could come.
“As with most of my clients, you hope for the best but expect the worst. And so Mr. Mills is prepared to deal with whatever comes,” Ballin said. “At this stage, he’s just awaiting a decision, he certainly hopes he isn’t charged with any offense, but if he is, we will vigorously defend him.”
That video is expected to be released in the next week or two.