Ahead of the imminent release of a video showing the incident, the Memphis police chief condemned the actions of officers involved in the arrest of Tire Nichols earlier this month as a “failure of basic humanity.”
“This isn’t just a professional failure. It’s a failure of another human being’s fundamental humanity,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said Wednesday in a YouTube video, her first on camera before Nichols’ death. Comments on the arrest.
“This incident was heinous, reckless, inhumane and in the spirit of transparency, and you will see it for yourself when the video is released in the coming days.”
Live updates on the Tire Nichols case
On January 7, Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, was hospitalized after Memphis police pulled him over and arrested him by force. He died of his wounds three days later, authorities say.
Five Memphis police officers, who are also black, were fired for violating policies on excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to provide assistance, the department said. A prosecutor said a decision was imminent on whether to press charges.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy will provide an update on the investigation at 2 p.m. Central Time, according to a news release.
An attorney for Nichols’ family said he was severely beaten, citing a video the family was given access to earlier this week. The lawyers said Nichols “bleeded profusely from severe beatings,” citing preliminary results of an autopsy they commissioned.
Other Memphis police officers are still being investigated for department policy violations related to the incident, Davis said, without elaborating.
Nichols’ arrest and subsequent death comes amid intense scrutiny of how police treat black people, especially since the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police “Life Matters” mass protest movement.
Davis, the first black woman to serve as Memphis police chief, said she expected a public reaction to the video released in the coming days and urged citizens to remain nonviolent “in our anger and frustration.”
“I want our citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest to demand action and outcomes. But we need to make sure our communities are safe in the process,” Davis said. “None of these are calling cards to incite violence or destruction against our communities or against our citizens.”
Nichols, a Memphis resident and FedEx employee whose family says he enjoys skateboarding, Starbucks and sunsets, was pulled over by Memphis officials on suspicion of reckless driving on Jan. 7, police said in an initial statement about the incident Say.
He was pulled over by Memphis police on Jan. 7 on suspicion of reckless driving, police said in an initial statement about the incident. When officers approached the vehicle, there was a “confrontation” and Nichols fled on foot, police said. Officers pursued him and they had another “confrontation” before he was taken into custody, police said.
Nichols then complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where he died three days later, police said.
Attorneys for Nichols’ family, who viewed the video of the arrest on Monday, described it as a heinous police beating that lasted up to three minutes. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Nichols was electrocuted, pepper sprayed and restrained, comparing it to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
“He was defenseless the whole time. To those cops, he was a human piñata. There was three minutes of undisguised, undisguised, non-stop beatings on this little boy. That’s what we said in the video. Saw it,” said family attorney Antonio Romanucci. “Not only violent, but brutal.”
The five officers fired were identified by police as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. All had joined the department within the past six years, police said.
Additionally, two members of the city’s fire department were relieved of their duties as part of Nichols’ “initial patient care,” a fire spokesman said.Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced investigation The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI have opened civil rights investigations into Nichols’ death.
Video of the incident could be released this week or next, Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates on Tuesday night, but he wanted to make sure his office had interviewed everyone involved before releasing the video, So it doesn’t have an impact on their statement.
Mulroy said prosecutors are trying to expedite the investigation and could make a decision on possible charges “in the same time frame we are considering releasing the video.”
Nichols’ family wants the police to be charged with murder, Romanucci told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday night.