Tyre Nichols’s death after police encounter was ‘failing of basic humanity’, says Memphis chief
By Victoria Bekiempis,2023-01-26
The police chief of Memphis, Tennessee has described the circumstances surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died three days after a 7 January encounter with police, as “heinous, reckless, and inhumane”.
Related: Tyre Nichols: what we know about his death after Memphis police encounter
“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,” CJ Davis said in a video statement released on 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.”
Nichols allegedly suffered a three-minute beating following a traffic stop. An independent autopsy indicated that he “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” his family attorney reportedly said .
“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” the New York Times quoted the family attorney, Antonio Romanucci, as saying. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”
While Memphis police have not yet publicly released video footage of the incident, Romanucci said that his family and their legal team viewed the video on Monday. Romanucci said it showed Nichols was pepper-sprayed, subjected to a stun gun and then restrained.
Memphis police initially said there was a “confrontation” when officers approached Nichols’s vehicle and then another incident following his arrest, according to the Times.
The five officers allegedly involved in the deadly encounter, who are Black, were fired following the incident. The Memphis police department, which is already conducting an internal investigation, said that the officers employed excessive force and then failed to assist Nichols.
“Concurrent within that investigation, other MPD officers are still under investigation for department policy violations, some infractions are less egregious than others,” Davis said. State and federal authorities are investigating the fatal encounter.
There were at least 1,176 police-involved killings in 2022, a record high that came just three years after George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police, spurring national protests and demands for racial justice and greater police accountability.
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