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Judge Delays Release of Additional Tyre Nichols Footage

A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn.
Adrian Sainz
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn.

Hours before the City of Memphis' widely-anticipated airing of additional video and audio related to Tyre Nichols' beating death, a judge halted the release of the material "until such time as the state and the defendants have reviewed this information."

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Judge James Jones granted a protective order to delay the release of approximately 20 hours of video and audio that the city has been withholding as it conducted further investigations into other employees.

Blake Ballin, the attorney representing defendant Desmond Mills Jr, said in a statement the motion was filed to ensure "the defendants' right to a fair trial."

He said potential jurors might see the videos and "form opinions or draw conclusions" about the events of Jan. 7, when five now-former Memphis police officers were seen on previously released videos beating Nichols after he fled on foot from a traffic stop. Nichols later died. The officers are charged with second degree murder and other crimes.

A sixth officer involved in the original traffic stop, but not present at the beating, was fired as a consequence of policy violations.

Those initial videos came from body cams worn by the officers involved and a surveillance camera that captured the entire beating. They were made public on via a Vimeo link Jan. 28.

The City of Memphis announced plans at Tuesday's City Council meeting to release the remainder of the videos this afternoon (March 8).

The city's legal council Jennifer Sink also reported the conclusion of investigations into seven Memphis Police Department personnel who were in some manner connected to the Nichols incident but not an immediate presence in the original videos that led to the first six firings.

Of the most recent round of disciplinary decisions, one employee was terminated and three others suspended. Two had their charges dismissed, and one person retired before their disciplinary hearing could be held. Sink said the individual who retired would likely have been fired.

The 20 additional hours of videos may provide more information as to why these seven employees were investigated.

The Shelby County District Attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case against the five officers, said it supported MPD's decision to release the remainder of the video footage. The statement continued: "Our office needs to review it carefully to ensure it doesn't prejudice the defendant or jeopardize our prosecution. ... We will work to review the material promptly in the hopes that the majority of it will be released sooner than later."

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.