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Memphis police officers in Tyre Nichols killing pleaded not guilty. What’s next for the case?

Also in Memphis, council members are considering legislation to cut back on police traffic stops for certain violations

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The former Memphis police officers accused of murder in the death of Tyre Nichols appear with their attorneys at an indictment hearing at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. The former police officers pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in the violent arrest and death of Nichols.

Brandon Dill, Associated Press

Five of the former Memphis police officers accused of being responsible for Tyre Nichols’ death pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping charges.

“This case may take some time,” Judge James Jones said, per the BBC. “We do ask for your continued patience and your continued civility in this case.”

On Jan. 7, Nichols was pulled over in Memphis, Tennessee, for a traffic stop for reportedly “driving recklessly.” As the stop proceeded, the situation escalated to Nichols fleeing the scene and then being beaten brutally once he was caught to the point of hospitalization. He died from the injuries three days later.

The officers directly involved in the beating were fired on Jan. 20.

Violent body camera footage of the incident was released to the public on Jan. 27.

His mother, RowVaughn Wells, was in attendance at the hearing and said she would attend each court date until “we get justice for my son,” according to BBC.

Lawyers are gathering evidence for the case, and according to the judge assigned to the case, it likely won’t be concluded any time soon.

What happens next in Memphis after Tyre Nichols’ death?

Nichols’ death has sparked more cries from activists to end police brutality and address police violence, with calls coming from the Rev. Al Sharpton to Vice President Kamala Harris, both of whom attended his funeral service.

Memphis is considering legislation similar to the “Driving Equality” law in Philadelphia, which reclassifies “seven low-level offenses as ‘secondary,’ meaning they can’t serve as the sole reason a police officer pulls over a motorist, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The offenses include driving with one headlight out and having a vehicle registration that is less than 60 days expired.

“We want to decrease the possibility of negative interactions,” Memphis city council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas said, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the bill and it will go through two more rounds before it could be passed.

Canopy in Memphis park dedicated to Tyre Nichols

A canopy in Tom Lee Park in Memphis was dedicated to Nichols, and his family attended the ceremony on Friday, ABC24 reported. The canopy will now be called “Sunset Canopy” in honor of Nichols’ passion for watching and taking photos and videos of sunsets.

Wells says Nichols was likely on his way home from skateboarding and watching the sunset when the traffic stop occurred.