The US attorney overseeing the federal civil rights investigation into Tire Nichols’ death said he met with Nichols’ family earlier this week and promised his investigation into the matter will be “thorough” and “methodical.”
“Our federal investigation may take some time, as these things often do, but we will be diligent and make decisions based on the facts and the law,” said Kevin Ritz, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died three days after a confrontation with police on January 7 during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. He had been pulled over for allegedly reckless driving by officers in Memphis, police said, and after his arrest he complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
Since then, the Memphis Police Department has fired five officers, all of whom are black, for violating the Excessive Use of Force Policy, the Duty to Intervene, and the Duty to Provide Assistance. the department said.
“The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work our officers do with integrity every day,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said at the time.
In addition, two members of the city’s fire department were fired. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a research into Nichols’ death and the U.S. Justice Department and FBI have opened a civil rights investigation.
Nichols’ death on Jan. 10 follows a number of recent high-profile cases in which police used excessive force against members of the public, particularly young black men.
Authorities have not released any video or provided specific details to the public about what happened during the arrest.
According to preliminary results of an autopsy commissioned by lawyers for his family, Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”.
“We can say that preliminary findings indicate that Tire suffered extensive bleeding as a result of a severe beating, and that his perceived injuries are consistent with what the family and lawyers saw on video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023 ,” attorney Benjamin Crump said in a pronunciation.
Officials have not released Nichols’ autopsy. CNN has asked Crump for a copy of the autopsy commissioned by the family, but he said the full report is not yet ready.
The family and lawyers viewed body-worn CCTV footage of the incident on Monday.
Family lawyer Antonio Romanucci said Nichols was “defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata to those cops. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, non-stop beating from this kid for three minutes.”
“What I saw on video today was horrific,” Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, said Monday. “No father, mother should witness what I saw today.”
Crump described the video as “appalling”, “deplorable” and “horrific”. He said Ravaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, was unable to view the first minute of the footage after hearing Nichols ask, “What have I done?” At the end of the footage, Nichols can be heard calling for his mother three times, the lawyer said.
Nichols fled from the police, his stepfather said, because he was afraid.
“Our son fled because he feared for his life,” Wells said Monday. “He didn’t run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, nothing like that. He fled because he feared for his life. And when you see the video, you see why he feared for his life.”
Crump, who was joined at a press conference by Nichols’ mother, stepfather, grandmother and aunt, said the family described Nichols as “a good kid” who loved skateboarding, photography and computers.
Video of the incident could be released this week or next week, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates Tuesday night, but he wants to make sure his office has interviewed everyone involved before releasing the video so there is no influence on their statements.
“A lot of people’s questions about exactly what happened will of course be answered once people see the video,” Mulroy said, noting that he believes the city will release enough footage to cover “the whole incident from the beginning to the end.” end.”
Prosecutors are trying to expedite the investigation and may be able to make a decision on potential charges “around the same time frame we are considering releasing the video,” Mulroy said.
Memphis police initially said there was a confrontation after Nichols was apprehended and he “fled the scene on foot”. Officers chased after him and there was another confrontation before Nichols was taken into custody, police said in a statement. pronunciation on social media.
“Afterwards, the suspect complained of shortness of breath, whereupon an ambulance arrived on the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” officials said.
The Memphis Police Department identified the fired officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.
The firefighters who were fired were part of Nichols’ “primary patient care” and were relieved of their duties “while an internal investigation is conducted,” the department’s public information officer Qwanesha Ward told CNN’s Nadia Romero.
When asked on Tuesday what those firefighters did or didn’t do, Romanucci told CNN there were “limits” to how much he could say.
“For a period before the ambulance services arrived on the scene, there was a fire at the scene. And they’re there with Tire and the police officers before EMS arrives,” he said.
The Memphis Police Association, the union representing officers, declined to comment on the terminations, except that the city of Memphis and Nichols’ family “deserve to know the full account of the events leading up to his death and what may have happened.” contributed to.”