Five former police officers are in custody in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist in Memphis, Tennessee, who died three days after a 7 January traffic stop spiraled into a fatal physical attack by the men, local media reported.
Local TV station NBC 5 said Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith had all surrendered. Only one – Smith – had charges listed so far, which were two counts of official misconduct, one count of official oppression, second-degree murder, aggravated assault-act in concert and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, the station said.
Nichols, 29, endured a three-minute brutal beating following this traffic stop. An attorney representing Nichols’s family reportedly said an independent autopsy revealed that he “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”.
“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” the family attorney, Antonio Romanucci, told reporters. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”
Memphis police officials initially said there was a “confrontation” when officers came toward Nichols’s vehicle and then another “confrontation” after they arrested him.
The five officers accused of involvement in this deadly encounter, who are Black, were fired last week. Memphis police officials said these officers flouted “multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid”.
Meanwhile, other officers are being investigated for possible policy violations. Two Memphis fire department members who worked on Nichols’s initial care have been “relieved of duty” pending an internal investigation that is ongoing, officials said.
State and federal authorities are investigating the fatal encounter.