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State Trial for Officers Charged in Tyre Nichols Death Deferred Until After Federal Case

Christopher Blank

A Shelby County judge has agreed to put off the state trial for the former Memphis Police officers charged with second degree murder for Tyre Nichols death until after an outcome is reached in their separate federal trial.

The federal trial, which involves civil rights violations, is expected to begin Sept. 9.

It was originally scheduled to begin in May but a U.S. district judge signed off on the September date last month at the request of defense attorneys who said additional time was necessary to provide well-prepared representation for their clients.

Although the five former officers face a different set of charges in state and federal court, they all stem from the beating of Tyre Nichols after he was pulled over Jan. 7, 2023 for an alleged traffic violation.

Body camera and other video footage from the night showed the detectives punching, striking and kicking Nichols - at times in the head. He died in the hospital three days later.

One of the five charged officers has pleaded guilty in federal courts as part of agreement with prosecutors to recommend a prison sentence of 15 years. The other four defendants maintain their innocence.

Their attorneys asked to postpone the state trial, arguing in a motion that defending both cases simultaneously creates “friction” and has “a chilling effect” on the exercise of legal rights.

Following an in-person hearing Friday, Judge James Jones granted a delay to the state trial – originally slated to begin in August.

In his written consent order, Jones acknowledged that neither prosecutors nor Nichols’ family objected to the request so long as the federal trial timeline proceeds as now scheduled.

“The Nichols’ family’s interest is in the efficient and fair administration of justice,” Jones wrote, citing prosecutors’ consultations with the family.

Jones noted that should the federal trial be further delayed, that prosecutors can reverse course and ask to quickly commence the state trial first.

Katie is a part-time WKNO contributor. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org