02/12/2024 - Prosecutors Outline Expert Witnesses in Federal Case on Tyre Nichols' Death

Prosecutors, meeting a judge's deadline, disclosed in court filings on Wednesday potential trial testimony avenues from Memphis Police Department training instructors. One of them, Juan Gonzalez, had taught the officers implicated in Nichols' death.

The video below depicts Nichols initially showing non-compliance after committing a road offense. He resisted the officers by refusing to lay down on the ground and later attempted to resist arrest by fleeing. However, in a second video available on YouTube, Nichols, who was already handcuffed, is seen being kicked and beaten with a baton, which many would view as highly excessive force.

According to Memphis' police chief, the department found no justification for the stop that led to the incident involving Tyre Nichols.

Prosecutors have stated that Juan Gonzalez, a veteran instructor at the training academy for over twenty years, may testify regarding the actions taken against Nichols. They argue that the level of force used by the officers contradicts the training received during the 21-week police academy and subsequent field training. Gonzalez's testimony is expected to include observations such as the officers' failure to follow protocol by immediately removing Nichols from his vehicle instead of first requesting his license and registration.

Furthermore, Gonzalez plans to assert that the officers' use of force, particularly the physical assault witnessed in the second video, goes beyond the techniques taught during their training. According to the filing, officers were instructed to employ manipulation techniques to control individuals, not to inflict harm.

Prosecutors also contend that the handling of the situation by the officers, including the use of punches, kicks, and baton strikes, does not align with the containment and cuffing techniques taught by the MPD. These claims were presented as part of the prosecution's case against Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, and Justin Smith, former Memphis officers implicated in Nichols' death. Another former officer, Desmond Mills Jr., has already pleaded guilty to federal charges and is expected to testify against his former colleagues.

The prosecution's list of potential witnesses also includes Zayid Saleem, a retired police department legal advisor and instructor. Saleem is anticipated to testify about officers' responsibilities to intervene and prevent excessive force, drawing parallels to the case of George Floyd. Additionally, prosecutors may call upon medical experts to provide insights into Nichols' medical condition during the incident.

Although Haley's lawyer has raised objections to the inclusion of expert testimony, arguing that the prosecution missed a deadline to disclose its intentions, the court has yet to rule on this matter. However, prosecutors maintain their stance on presenting expert witnesses to support their case against the officers involved.

The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated an inquiry under the category of "patterns and practices" to examine the utilization of force and arrest procedures by Memphis law enforcement officers. This investigation aims to scrutinize whether the police department, situated in a predominantly Black community, is involved in racially discriminatory policing practices.

The video below shows the first instance of Nichol's arrest (bad language included) and not the second instance of his beating.