MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The five former officers who were accused of killing Tyre Nichols, were back in court on Friday as their lawyers discussed evidence in the case.
Nichols’ brother from California was in attendance with the rest of his family. This was his first time seeing the five men who were seen on video beating his brother.
“It shouldn’t happen with no race, no colors at all,” said Jamal Dupree, Nichol’s brother. “But just to see five black officers that I know they got brothers and sisters, to kill my little brother, that’s beyond me.”
Nichols died days after a traffic stop in Southeast Memphis back in January. Video shows officers punching and kicking him and refusing to give him medical attention afterward.
“It made me sad, disgusted. They look like me. They look like my brother. It’s not something easy to digest,” said Latoya Yizar, Nichols’ sister.
This was the second time the former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith appeared in court.
They wore face masks and let their five attorneys do all the talking about what evidence in the case will or won’t be released to the public before trial.
The city had planned to release additional body camera footage and employment files, but defense attorneys argue it could interfere with the rights to a fair trial.
The district attorney’s office says it favors transparency and the judge releasing what he deems he can. The judge says he’s nearing his decision on what further evidence, if any, will be released to the public.
“There is information that could be prejudicial to our clients getting fair trials,” said Blake Ballin, attorney for Desmond Mills Jr. “The facts and evidence should come out at a trial and the jury should hear it for the first time in a trial and not through the media.”
Prosecutors say there is plenty to sift through and the judge will take a look as all sides try to agree on what the public should and should not see.
“I would say it’s about 3,000 pages or so of information plus about 14-15 additional videos related to the case,” said lead prosecutor Paul Hagerman.
Hagerman says that’s just a tiny fraction of the evidence in the case.
“We’ve turned over what we have in our possession. Which is over a terabyte, I think, of information. It’s been extensive,” Hagerman said.
But for Tyre’s family, seeing the officers and knowing what they are accused of speaks volumes.
“Just seeing them in real-time and knowing what they did to him. They tortured him. They laughed at him. And just to see them in person. And to know I will never see my brother again because of them,” said Keyana Dixon, Nichols’ sister. “It just really breaks my heart.”
Another decision that will have to be made is whether Bean and Smith will be allowed to have separate trials as they requested. It’s something Ballin says he’s still considering.
“There are strategic advantages to having cases like this tried all at once and there are potential advantages of having them separated,” Ballin said.
No motion deadline has been set on that yet.
“A motion to sever is more like a trial motion, and when we get closer to that point, we will make our position quite clear on that,” Hagerman said.
The case will resume back in court on August 18 and right now it is unclear if the five former officers will have to be present during that time.
The judge stated if the discovery isn’t complete, the officers don’t have to appear in court on that date. If it is complete, they have to show up.