MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The release of 20 more hours of video and other records in the Tyre Nichols case has been delayed following a court hearing Wednesday morning.
The City of Memphis confirmed to ABC24, "In a response to a Motion for Protective Order filed by attorneys for defense this morning, the Criminal Court of Tennessee for the 30th Judicial District Division 3 has ordered that no video, audio, or records related to the City's administrative investigation may be released until further order by the court."
The Shelby County District Attorney General's Office released the following statement after Wednesday's order: “For the sake of transparency and the public interest, our office supports MPD’s decision to release the remainder of the video footage in the Tyre Nichols investigation. Regarding other material planned for release, our office needs to review it carefully to ensure it doesn’t prejudice the defendant or jeopardize our prosecution. We know the judge has the final say in this matter and trust that the appropriate decision has been made to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation. We will work to review the material promptly in the hopes that the majority of it will be released sooner rather than later.”
Blake Ballin, the attorney for former Memphis Police officer Desmond Mills Jr., made the following statement in light of the judge's order: "The motion and order filed today are the result of the need to balance the interests of transparency with the defendants' right to a fair trial. Police department investigations often uncover evidence that is irrelevant, prejudicial, misleading or inadmissible. The order issued today will allow all parties to review the information that the Memphis Police Department wants to release to ensure that the public is not exposed to such evidence. It is vital that potential jurors do not form opinions or draw conclusions prior to hearing the actual evidence in this case. After review and input from all parties we are confident that Judge Jones will issue an order that protects both the constitutional rights of the defendants and the interests of the public."
This comes after the city announced Tuesday at city council the latest actions taken against Memphis Police and Fire employees under investigation in Nichols’ death.
City of Memphis Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink had said Tuesday about 20 more hours of police video and audio would be released the next afternoon, but then the judge issued the delay. She had said the video would be released in a similar way to the first video release in late January.
The city released video from the Jan. 7 arrest on Friday, Jan. 27. Nichols died three days after the beating.
The city also said it would also release specific records of the administrative investigations and disciplinary action that was decided. After redactions are completed, the city will eventually release remainder of ISP file, things such as witness statements. Wednesday morning's order also delays the release of those records.
Sink told council members that of the 13 MPD employees investigated, seven have been terminated. That includes the five officers facing criminal charges (Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith) as well as former officer Preston Hemphill, who was on the original traffic stop scene. Hemphill is not criminally charged. The seventh employee Sink said was terminated was a lieutenant and the acting supervisor of the officers that evening. Sink also said that lieutenant arrived on the scene that night.
Sink said that MPD lieutenant - whose name hasn't been released - submitted his retirement before his hearing was scheduled but based on the evidence available, the action recommended was termination. Because he retired, he did not have to appear at the hearing, which Sink said was still held. She said because he did not appear, that employee was not officially terminated.
Sink told the council three other MPD employees were suspended, and two others had administrative charges dismissed.
Sink said four Memphis Fire Department employees had been under investigation. Three had already been fired, and the one other MFD employee was suspended. Two of the fired employees - both EMTS - had their licenses suspended February 3. They have not been criminally charged.
"The city engaged in a very thorough, a very comprehensive investigation to ensure that all individuals who were involved in this, whether in small role or large role, were reviewed to determine whether or not we had any violations of policy. And if so we wanted to address it," Sink said. "The conclusions that have reached were very thoughtful. We looked at every single individual to make sure that we had a comprehensive understanding of what they did. This was a difficult situation for everybody. The city took it very seriously and continues to take it very seriously."
Previously, we also learned two Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies were also relieved of duty with pay pending investigation, but not charged. On Thursday, Feb. 16, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said those two sheriffs have been suspended for five days without pay, which started February 15, but he has not received any indication from D.A. Mulroy that those sheriffs will be charged.