MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The debate continues over what the public will and won’t see when it comes to the Tyre Nichols case as the attorneys for the five officers charged in his death went back to court on Friday.
The five former officers charged in the case were not in court but their five attorneys were there fighting over the release of video and other evidence to the media before trial.
Paul McAdoo, the attorney for the Media Coalition, wants to overturn two court orders.
“The media is a surrogate for the public they can’t be here every day,” McAdoo said. “But the more they can know about high-profile criminal trials, the better.”
The first order McAdoo wants to overturn is the one that prohibits releasing the personnel file of one of the officers who had previously worked as a correctional officer in Shelby County. The second order prohibits the City of Memphis from releasing video, audio, and reports related to the Tyre Nichols case.
Particularly, what’s called the Garrity interviews, which are case interviews the officers had to do as a part of their employment or lose their jobs.
“We have what could be as many as 17 employees of the city who have had administrative investigations that are related to this proceeding,” McAdoo said.
The attorneys went back and forth over whether releasing the information would violate the former officers’ rights.
“That should not be given to the media,” said Martin Zummach, attorney for Justin Smith. “Those are constitutionally protected, compelled statements.”
Judge James Jones asked prosecutors to create a list of things they plan to use in trial and then give it to defense attorneys to see if they have any objections. Things that the defense doesn’t object to will be released publicly.
“Every single other time in my experience, they say, “We can’t comment on that.” Now, all of a sudden for political reasons. They want to dump everything out there. It’s just it’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s never done. It’s never done for a reason,” said Blake Ballin, attorney for Desmond Mills Jr.
The defense attorneys call all of this political, but the District Attorney says it’s about transparency.
“I think the fact that there has been an increase in transparency in these types of cases is a good thing and not something to be criticized,” District Attorney Steve Mulroy said. “I don’t think that necessarily means that it is quote, unquote, political, whatever that means. I think it’s just an increase in transparency, which is much needed in these kinds of officer-involved fatality cases, precisely because there’s such a lack of public trust right now.”
But right now, there is still no timeline on when you would actually be able to see the hours of additional video and materials related to one of the most publicized cases in Memphis history.
The Judge set June 5 as the deadline for the D.A.’s office to come up with its list of evidence to be used at trial. The defense attorneys will then have until June 23 to file any objections.
The release of items, if any, to the public could happen any time after that.