A lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr., one of the five former Memphis cops charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, has indicated his client may not have been able “to see” — because the officers accidentally pepper-sprayed themselves during the vicious beatdown.
“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,” attorney Blake Ballin said in a statement Saturday.
Disturbing footage released by the Memphis Police Department Friday night shows the savage beating of Nichols — and cops pepper-spraying themselves while trying to subdue the 29-year-old motorist.
Ballin’s statement came out as the nation continued to reel from brutal footage that includes chilling images of the officers fist-bumping each other and the 29-year-old repeatedly crying out for his mom, who was at home less than 100 yards away.
The attorney called for “caution and patience” before judging the action of Mills, who, along with four other officers, was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping after the Jan. 7 beating.
“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,” Ballin concluded.
Mills, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith were indicted by a grand jury and taken into custody in connection with the Jan. 10 death of Nichols on Thursday.
Each was charged with seven counts, including one count of second-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of official oppression and two counts each of aggravated kidnapping and official misconduct.
They’d all bonded out by Friday morning.
Read more of the Post’s coverage of Tyre Nichols’ beating death
In addition to the fired cops, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. announced the suspension of two deputies and ordered a new investigation into Nichols’ death after watching the videos.
“Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols,” he said in a statement.
The video shows the unidentified deputies arriving at the scene after five Memphis cops had beaten and pinned Nichols to the ground.
The Memphis Fire Department said two unidentified personnel who were involved in Nichols’ “initial patient care” at the scene were “relieved of duty.”
The department said Friday that it expects to conclude its internal probe into the incident “early next week.”