‘It’s a mistake’ to think a murder case against cops who beat Tire Nichols to death ‘will be easy’: legal expert
CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig said the criminal charges against the five Memphis police officers accused of murdering 29-year-old Tire Nichols by beating him to death are rightly “aggressive,” but he warned that the prosecution will not be easy.
Speaking to host Michael Smerconish, the former prosecutor said each of the five accused cops, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean, face seven counts each and that a jury – shouldn’t defense attorneys seek to try them separately – will have to return with 35 verdicts.
Honig said “it’s a mistake” to think prosecutions will be “easy” because jurors can’t convict if they have any doubt.
Honig also addressed the failure to provide medical assistance to Nichols as he lay on the floor after the savage beating.
“So the theory here is to not provide assistance or not provide medical assistance,” he told the host. “Now, this is a really important point legally because this is the kind of new development we’re seeing in some of these police cases. We saw it in the Derek Chauvin trial in the murder of George Floyd. The theory around all of these officers are, in addition to causing George Floyd’s death, they did not render aid. ”
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“It was a fairly new legal theory at the time, but the jury accepted it, and now we’re starting to see this type of theory being used more often,” he continued. “These are some of the lesser charges, but still lesser charges; the official misconduct charge and the official omission charge if you look further into the charges here. The theory is that by standing by and doing nothing, first of all, I think that tells you something about their mindset, their intent. They didn’t care what happened to her and that’s a crime in itself. And we see prosecutors doing this kind of theory used much more aggressively to indict some police officers and with some success. ”
“At the end of the day, do you expect there to be more charges ? “Host Smerconish in a hurry.
“I don’t expect there to be more charges,” Honig responded. “I don’t think there’s a first-degree charge to be had here, as you said, it involves intentional premeditated murder, the prosecutors clearly had to consider that charge – I don’t think the evidence is there. I think they’ I charged that as aggressively as I could. I’m all for aggressive prosecution; that’s what I used to do as a prosecutor, Michael, but the risk is that if the jury thinks you’ve overcharged, it could actually backfire because it can compromise your credibility. ”
“Prosecutors really took an aggressive approach here, I think it was warranted, but I don’t think it’s a safe assumption that everyone is going to be convicted at every level,” he added.