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Nichols’ family lawyer challenges statement calling for ‘patience’

(NewsNation) — Antonio Romanucci, the attorney representing Tyre Nichols’ family, is challenging a statement put out by the attorney for one of the fired Memphis police officers.

Attorney Blake Ballin, who represents former officer Desmond Mills Jr., released a statement Saturday calling for “caution and patience” in judging his client’s involvement in the events leading to Nichols’ death.

Ballin said the body camera footage proves that his client did not cross the same lines as his fellow officers and he believes he’ll be cleared of the charges against him.

“I challenge the statement. … If he’s bold enough to say the video proves something on behalf of his client, then I’d like to say that the video proves that, indeed, all of them acted together, and were accomplices in the second-degree murder of Tyre Nichols,” Romanucci said during an appearance on “NewsNation Prime.”

Romanucci added that there is no reason Nichols’ family won’t go after Mills, in addition to the other charged officers.

Authorities on Friday released body camera footage of Nichols’ arrest, which showed five Memphis police officers beating the 29-year-old Black FedEx driver as he called out for his mother during an arrest earlier this month.

The officers, all of whom are Black, were charged Thursday with murder and other crimes in the killing of Nichols, a motorist who died three days after the Jan. 7 altercation with the officers that occurred during a traffic stop.

Left: Justin Smith, top center: Emmitt Martin III, top right: Desmond Mills Jr., center left: Demetrius Haley, right bottom: Tadarrius Bean (Photos provided by Memphis Police Department)

“The videos released on January 27 have produced as many questions as they have answers. The question of whether this city would react to these videos and mourn with Tyre Nichols’s family in a peaceful way has been answered. 

Some of the questions that remain will require a focus on Desmond Mills’s individual actions; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see when he arrived late to the scene; on what Desmond knew and what he was able to see after he was pepper sprayed; and on whether Desmond’s actions crossed the lines that were crossed by other officers during this incident.   

We continue to urge caution and patience in judging Desmond Mills’s actions. 

We are confident that the questions of whether Desmond crossed the lines that others crossed and whether he committed the crimes charged will be answered with a resounding no.”


Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis described the officers’ actions as “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” and said Friday that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.

“We’re very pleased that they did what they did with the five officers that administered the severe beating, but I hope they don’t stop there,” Romanucci said. “I think there’s a lot of accountability. … I think there are a lot of reasons for why Tyre is not with us anymore, and everyone needs to be held accountable.”

A specialized police group known as the Scorpion Unit, which included the five officers charged, was permanently deactivated on Saturday, according to a statement from the Memphis Police Department.

“Scorpion” is an acronym for Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods.