Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died on 10 January, several days after an encounter with Memphis, Tennessee, police officers during a traffic stop near his mother’s house.
According to Nichols’s family and their attorneys, an independent autopsy revealed he had “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”. The Memphis police department is investigating the deadly encounter, as are state and federal authorities.
Meanwhile, Memphis remains on edge as the police department is poised to release video of the deadly encounter. The video is expected to provide additional details about the events leading to Nichols’s death, as authorities have yet to provide many thus far.
Here is what is known about Nichols’s death.
Who was Tyre Nichols?
Nichols worked the second shift at FedEx, the parcel shipping company. He would return to his mother’s house about 7pm every night for his meal break, his family reportedly said.
The father of a four-year-old boy, Nichols enjoyed photographing sunsets and skateboarding. His mother, RowVaughn Wells, said he had a tattoo of her name on his arm.
“That made me proud,” she told the New York Times. “Most kids don’t put their mom’s name. My son was a beautiful soul.”
What happened during the traffic stop?
Police pulled Nichols over on 7 January for alleged reckless driving, his family’s attorneys said Monday. The police department initially claimed that a “confrontation” unfolded when officers approached the vehicle, adding that he ran away, then when they arrested him there was another “confrontation”.
The encounter resulted in Nichols being “bloody, swollen and unconscious” until his death several days later. Authorities have provided few other details about the incident.
What does the video show?
While the public has yet to see the footage, Nichols’s family members and their attorneys have seen a recording that they say shows a three-minute beating. Antonio Romanucci, one of their lawyers, said police pepper-sprayed Nichols, deployed a stun-gun against him and then restrained him.
“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” Romanucci told reporters. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.” The family’s legal team said that during the encounter, Nichols said he simply wanted to go home.
The video showed that Nichols “called repeatedly for his mother” during the beating, which unfolded some 100 yards from her home, according to statements they gave to media.
When will the video be released?
The Shelby county district attorney’s office said on 23 January that they expect the video to be released this week or next. The chief of Memphis police said the video will be released “in the coming days”.
Who are the officers involved?
Five officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith – were involved in the arrest, according to the Memphis Police Department.
The officers, who are all Black, were fired last week, it said.
Following an investigation, the department alleged that they violated “multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid”. Other officers are currently being investigated for potential policy violations.
Two Memphis fire department members who were involved in Nichols’ initial care have also been “relieved of duty” while an internal investigation is ongoing, officials said.
What have police officials said?
The Memphis police chief, CJ Davis, decried the fatal incident, calling it “heinous, reckless, and inhumane”.
“Aside from being your chief of police, I am a citizen of this community, we share; I am a mother, I am a caring human being who wants the best for all of us; this is not just a professional failing,” Davis said in a video statement posted to YouTube.
“This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual … and in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”