The family of a man who died following a traffic stop with Memphis Police has retained nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump, the law firm announced on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.
Memphis Police said that Tyre Nichols, 29, ran from an arrest that day and two separate “confrontations” occurred. Nichols then complained of shortness of breath, according to the Memphis Police Department, and was taken to the hospital. He died three days later on January 10, 2023.
When Nichols was arrested and taken to the hospital, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that they had been contacted by the office of Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy and were asked to investigate the “use of force” involved in Nichols’ arrest.
On Tuesday, January 17, a week after Nichols’ death, the City of Memphis posted a statement regarding Nichols’ death on the city’s website, attributed to Memphis Police Chief CJ Daivs and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
The statement reads:
“We understand and agree that transparency around the events surrounding the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols is critically important, especially the release of the video footage. Because this is an open investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), MPD has reached out to TBI and the Shelby County District Attorney, Steve Mulroy.
The video will be released publicly after the completion of the internal investigation into the actions of the officers and after the family of Mr. Nichols has had the opportunity to review the video privately.
We anticipate that MPD’s internal investigation will be completed by the end of this week. The City has spoken with Ben Crump, attorney for the family of Mr. Nichols, and we are arranging a meeting with them early next week.”
The office of Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy also released a statement, promising to release the video of Nichols’ arrest as soon as possible.
Our office is committed to transparency and understands the reasonable request from the public to view the video footage. However, we must ensure we abide by applicable laws and ethical rules so that we do not jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution. We’re working with the appropriate agencies to determine how quickly we can release the video, and will do so as soon as we can. We’ll be sure to update the public throughout this process.
The family of Nichols planned a memorial for the 29-year-old at the MJ Edwards Funeral Home on Airways Boulevard at noon on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
“My stepson was brutally killed,” Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said days prior during a protest. “No one should die from a traffic stop.”
Memphis Police said that officers had a “confrontation” with Nichols and the 29-year-old ran. He was captured and another “confrontation” ensued, according to the Memphis Police Department (MPD).
As of January 17, MPD had not elaborated on what happened during those “confrontations”, the department only saying that Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital where he would later die.
Nichols’ family was frustrated by a lack of answers regarding their loved one’s death and protested outside of a police station on Sunday, January 15, 2023.
“They killed my baby brother,” cried out Nichols’ sister Kenyana Dixon.
The family’s frustrations were due, in part, to the fact that they had still not seen the body-camera video from Nichols’ arrest. In the statement released by the City of Memphis and Memphis Police on Tuesday, January 17, it seems that the family will get to see that video after Memphis Police conclude their internal investigation, an investigation which is expected to wrap up by the end of the week.
Demonstrating in front of a police station days prior, protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace. We will not accept what you have done.”
On Sunday, January 15, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued statements, saying that the department will take action against the officers involved, though it was immediately unclear what that action may be.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols, it was important to take swift and deliberate action to maintain transparency, accountability, public trust, and legitimacy in our community. Therefore, on January 7, 2023, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) enlisted the assistance of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office to conduct an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police officers. In addition, MPD immediately began its own administrative investigation concerning policy violations.
“After reviewing various sources of information involving this incident, I have found that it is necessary to take immediate and appropriate action,” Chief CJ Davis said. “Today, the department is serving notice to the officers involved of the impending administrative actions.”
Unlike private sector employees, there is a required procedural process before government civil servant employees can be disciplined or terminated from employment. MPD is working quickly and appropriately to go through the administrative disciplinary and investigative process, which is expected to be completed later this week.
“Make no doubt, we take departmental violations very seriously and, while we must complete the investigation process, it is our top priority to ensure that swift justice is served,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “We want citizens to know that we are prepared to take immediate and appropriate actions based on what the findings determine.”
Under the tenants of procedural justice, every Memphis Police Officer is expected to treat all citizens with respect and dignity, while demonstrating due care for their safety and well-being. All officers are expected to act in accordance with their oath of office, their training, department policies, and procedures, and solicit assistance from their supervisors when needed.
Sources told FOX13 that at least five officers were involved in those “confrontations” with Nichols.
In a statement, attorney Crump echoed the family’s calls to see the body camera video from Nichols’ arrest.
“All of the available information tells us that this was the tragic and preventable death of a young man deeply beloved by his family and community. This kind of in-custody death destroys community trust if agencies are not swiftly transparent. The most effective way for the Memphis Police Department to be transparent with the grieving Nichols family and the Memphis community is to release the body camera and surveillance footage from the traffic stop. Nobody should ever die from a simple traffic stop – the footage is the only way to discern the true narrative of why and how that happened to Tyre.”
Meanwhile, Nichols’ family continued to grieve the loss of their loved one while they await more clarity on what happened the day Nichols was taken into custody.
“It was almost as if he was killed on the scene and they just tried to cover it up,” said Wells.“We are going to fight. What they did to my brother they might as well have killed us all.”