Tyre Nichols’ Death Sparks Outrage and Investigation into Memphis Police Brutality

The death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols on Jan. 10 has sparked outrage and spurred a multi-level investigation into the events that led up to it. Preliminary findings of an autopsy commissioned by family attorneys indicate that Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”[0] Five former Memphis Police officers have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression in relation to the incident.[1]

It began on Jan. 7 when police pulled Nichols over, and a “confrontation” ensued.[2] He fled on foot and there was a second confrontation at a nearby location where he “experienced serious injuries,” according to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy. Nichols was taken away by ambulance, but later died in the hospital.[3]

Cerelyn “C.J.” is the Chief of[2] Davis said the five officers fired on Friday were “directly involved in the physical abuse” that led to Nichols' death, and that more officers are under investigation for department violations.[4] The officers have been identified as Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.[5]

Video footage of the traffic stop is to be released by the City of Memphis after 6 p.m. (CT) Friday.[6] Family members have already seen the video and called it “horrific”.[7] Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family, likened the footage to that of Rodney King, a Black man brutally beaten by Los Angeles police officers during a traffic stop in 1991.[7]

President Joe Biden has called for peaceful protest in response to the incident, saying in a written statement that “outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”

Chief Davis echoed this sentiment, saying: “I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest, to demand action and results, but we need to ensure our community is safe in this process.”[7]

David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said of the incident: “Let me be clear: what happened here does not, at all, reflect proper policing.[8] This was wrong, and this was criminal.[6]

0. “Tyre Nichols’ arrest video set for public release on Friday, according to Tennessee Sheriff’s Association” News Channel 5 Nashville, 24 Jan. 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/tyre-nichols-arrest-video-set-for-public-release-on-friday-according-to-tennessee-sheriffs-association

1. “Capitol Police boost security preparations ahead of Tyre Nichols footage release” POLITICO, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/26/capitol-police-boost-security-preparations-ahead-of-tyre-nichols-footage-release-00079816

2. “Tyre Nichols death: Memphis police officers indicted, booked” Commercial Appeal, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2023/01/26/one-indicted-all-five-mpd-officers-booked-in-tyre-nichols-death/69844181007/

3. “What we know — and still don't know — about what led to Tyre Nichols' death” CNN, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/26/us/what-we-know-tyre-nichols-death/index.html

4. “WATCH: MPD Chief C.J. Davis speaks out for the first time on Tyre Nichols death, says video will be released ‘in the coming days'” WATN – Local 24, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/crime/watch-mpd-chief-cj-davis-speaks-out-tyre-nichols-death-video-released-coming-days/522-04cbd670-4218-468d-bd19-aa736696d09b

5. “Tyre Nichols' investigation | Attorneys for two of the indicted former Memphis police officers hold news conference” WATN – Local 24, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/local/tyre-nichols-death-investigation-officer-involved-criminal-defense-attorney-charges-police-brutality-memphis/522-7636d952-71ce-4f36-87b7-e54c517200ca

6. “Tyre Nichols traffic stop video to be released Friday” WREG NewsChannel 3, 26 Jan. 2023, https://wreg.com/news/local/tyre-nichols/district-attorney-to-present-update-on-tyre-nichols-case-today/

7. “Memphis braces for release of video footage in Tyre Nichols beating” The Hill, 26 Jan. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/3831775-memphis-braces-for-release-of-video-footage-in-tyre-nichols-beating/

8. “Tyre Nichols video worse than Rodney King footage, Memphis police chief says” The Guardian US, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/27/tyre-nichols-death-memphis-video-police-rodney-king