Shelby Co. DA Steve Mulroy weighs in on Tyre Nichols’ death investigation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been more than a week — eight days to be exact — since the death of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old who Memphis Police said had a confrontation with officers.

Since then, there’s been protests, outcry and now, the federal government is stepping in.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice along with other federal government entities announced they are launching a civil rights investigation into the death of Nichols.

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Just hours later, FOX13 spoke to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy one-on-one for the first time since the death of Tyre Nichols.

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“I want to assure the public that we take this kind of case very seriously, we understand what’s at stake, we understand the public importance of it and we are committed to being as transparent as we can as quickly as we can,” said Mulroy.

The two biggest questions: When will the body camera footage be released? And will his office be the one to prosecute the officers?

“With that in mind, let me just tell you that I originally decided during the campaign and shortly after I took office that when we had officer-involved fatalities, the appropriate course was to get an independent prosecutor. In the first two instances in my tenure, I did precisely that. I went to the TN DA’s conference, a statewide entity, and asked for what’s called a pro-tem appointment of an independent prosecutor, but sadly, because there’s been so many officer-involved fatality cases happening so rapidly, I decided to come up with a different process,” he said.

That different process he’s referring to is to turn to his Justice Review Unit, which was just launched last month.

It consists of Lorna McCluskey and Rob Gowan, two longtime Memphis defense attorneys.

“This is the unit that’s primary responsibility is to look back at our own work in our DA’s office and see if there’s been wrongful convictions or wrongful sentences but I’ve also decided to give them this responsibility as well to make a recommendation based on the TBI investigation in officer involved fatality cases as to whether a prosecution of the involved officers is warranted,” he said.

As for how many officers, Mulroy would not confirm the number of officers or any of the findings from the city investigation, which Mayor Jim Strickland says was completed over the weekend.

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But he said once a hearing happens later this week, we can expect to see the video soon after.

“We’re currently thinking that sometime next week might work but we don’t want to guarantee anything because there’s still an ongoing investigation but if all goes well, then something along that timeframe I think is possible,” he said.

Mulroy said there are a handful of reasons why the video has not been released yet.

“There’s a danger that a witness that we want to get the unfiltered truth from may either adapt their testimony based on what they’ve seen or end up having their memory tampered so they end up testifying or talking about what they saw on the video rather than what they saw with their own eyes,” he said.

Another reason, according to Mulroy, is because legally, they have to redact any information from civilians who may or may not be in the video or any reports.

When asked about whether or not the video will be edited or released in its entirety, Mulroy said that’s the plan.

“My strong belief is that if there’s going to be a release of the video, then it needs to be everything, not selected excerpts, and it should be released without comment,” he said. “We don’t want to prejudice anyone involved in the investigation or any potential defendant if there ever is one.”

Mulroy also confirmed he has seen the video himself.

“I can tell you that I’ve seen it, but I can’t really speak to anything else, I think it would be improper to comment on the particular investigation,” he said.