The announcement of the charges against the officers comes as the fallout from the beating and death of Mr Nichols continues to roil Memphis and its police department. Six officers have already been fired for their role in the incident, as have two EMTs and a lieutenant in the city’s fire department. Five of the police officers have been charged with second-degree murder.
According to CNN’s reporting, the seven officers will receive a “statement of charges” notifying them of the policy violations they’re charged with — after which they’ll get an internal hearing to determine their culpability.
The death of Mr Nichols is one of the highest profile police-involved killings since the summer of 2020, when the nation erupted into protest over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
On January 7, Mr Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was driving close to his family’s home when he was pulled over and then brutally beaten by members of a speical unit of the Memphis Police Department. Mr Nichols was eventually transported to an area hospital, where he died three days later.
Several weeks later, the city released body camera footage showing a group of police officers repeatedly kicking and beating a restrained Mr Nichols with a baton. Mr Nichols then did not recieve any medical attention for some 20 minutes following the conclusion of the beating.
The response in Memphis since the release of the body camera footage has been swift: in addition to the firings in both the police and fire departments, the police department disbanded the speical unit that was responsible for beating Mr Nichols while the city council has introduced 11 new public safety proposals including requiring police to use marked cars during traffic stops.
The city council on Tuesday also questioned the Police Chief Cerelyn J Davis and Fire Chief Gina Sweat about the failings and futures of their departments in the wake of the beating.
Ms Sweat said that her EMTs and lieutenant were responded to a “fairly routine call” about a police use of pepper spray on Mr Nichols and didn’t know the extent of the beating he had suffered, though she also said that the respondents failed to properly care for Mr Nichols within the protocols set out by the department.
Ms Davis was blunt in her assessment, telling the council that her department has a cultural issue and blaming a “egos” for the beating.
Mr Nichols was laid to rest in Memphis last week. His parents are set to attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.