Tyre Nichols’ Attorneys: Memphis Police Stop That Led to Death Was a “Nonstop Beating”

Nichols was used as “human pinata” by police, said attorneys for Nichols after viewing bodycam footage.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

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On January 10, Tyre Nichols, 29, died. Three days before, Nichols was stopped by Memphis police and beaten for three minutes, according to lawyers for his family. Investigations are underway.

Today, nearly two weeks after his death, Tyre Nichols’ family met with law enforcement and were shown footage of his death. The video has not been released to the public. But lawyers for Nichols’ family describe gut-wrenching bodycam footage of his violent arrest at the hands of five former Memphis police officers. 

“What he was in [that video] was defenseless the entire time,” Attorney Antonio Romanucci said. “He was a human piƱata for those police officers. It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes.”  

In the video, the family said they saw the officers kick, pepper spray, and use a stun gun while Nichols repeatedly asked, “What did I do?” The family’s attorney said he yelled for his mother three times near the end of the footage.

Nichols’ death sparked protests across the city. Demonstrators, in part, demanded the release of footage showing his death. The Shelby County District Attorney’s office said in a statement that they’d release the footage either this week or next week. “Transparency is a priority for the DA’s Office, and we understand the public’s desire for immediate release. However, it’s important that the release does not compromise the investigation,” the statement said

On Friday, the Memphis Police Department announced in a statement that they fired all five officers involved in the beating after an internal investigation concluded that they’d violated several department policies, including excessive force and failure to render aid. 

According to ABC News, the District Attorney has stated that they will be looking into criminal charges for the officers. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Justice Department will also be conducting their own criminal investigations into Nichols’ death, while the family’s legal team tackles a civil one. 

“We’re going to get justice for my son Tyre if that’s the last breath I take,” said Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, through tears at the press conference. 

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