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Independent Autopsy Shows Tyre Nichols Died From ‘Severe Beating,’ Family Says After Five Memphis Officers Fired
Memphis police officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith were fired on Jan. 20 following an internal probe into the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.
A Tennessee man who died during a police traffic stop this month lost his life due to injuries he sustained after being brutally assaulted by five Memphis officers, attorneys for the family said.
Tyre Nichols, 29, “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” civil rights lawyer Ben Crump told Oxygen.com in a statement, citing preliminary results from an independent autopsy.
"We can state that preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023,” Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, said.
The autopsy was conducted on Jan. 23 by a “highly regarded, nationally renowned forensic pathologist,” the statement added. Nichols' family’s lawyers also promised that additional details regarding the independent autopsy would be released at a future unspecified date.
Official autopsy findings haven’t yet been released. The Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office told Oxygen.com their office has up to 90 days to issue its report.
Nichols died on Jan. 7 after officers pulled him over and attempted to arrest him during a traffic stop. He was allegedly pulled over on suspicion of "reckless driving," police said, however, a confrontation escalated, causing Nichols to attempt to flee the scene, which resulted in him being fatally subdued by officers. He died three days after being hospitalized, according to a Newsweek report.
On Friday, the Memphis Police Department announced the five officers involved in the fatal traffic stop had violated "multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid."
Memphis police officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith were all fired by the Memphis Police Department over the incident following an internal probe. All five officers had been hired between 2018 and 2020.
An additional two police personnel involved in the patient care of Nichols were also suspended pending an internal investigation, the department announced Tuesday.
Nichols’ attorneys had previously compared his alleged beating death to the horrific assault of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police Department officers, citing body camera footage of the incident.
“Today, with the family of Tyre Nichols, we saw with our own eyes the disgusting way in which he lost his life at the hands of Memphis police,” Nichols lawyers said in an earlier statement.
“Tyre was brutalized by Memphis police, much like how Rodney King was beaten more than thirty years ago –– but unlike Rodney, Tyre lost his life from this violent attack. How are we here again so many years later? These former officers must face the consequences of taking this young man’s life and robbing his family of their loved one –– justice is the only path forward.”
The police body camera recordings haven’t been publicly released. Officials had previously stated the footage could be released as soon as this or next week.
“Transparency remains a priority in this incident, and a premature release could adversely impact the criminal investigation and the judicial process,” Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said. “We are working with the District Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate time to release video recordings publicly.”
Meanwhile, Crump’s office vowed it "will not stop until we achieve full justice for Tyre and his family.”
The FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office are now overseeing a criminal investigation into the police-involved death.
“As I told Mr. Nichols’ family, our federal investigation may take some time,” U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz said. “These things often do. But we will be diligent, and we will make decisions based on the facts and the law.”
On Monday, the Memphis Police Department said it had facilitated a viewing of the body camera footage of Nichols’ assault with the 29-year-old’s family. Only a select handful of people are believed to have seen the footage apart from Nichols’ family.
Frank Colvett Jr., a city councilman who represents Memphis’ second district, described the recordings as “disgusting.”
"I have spoken to several people who have actually seen the video,” Colvett told FOX13 Memphis. "I have been told it's disgusting, it's damaging; it's not good even slightly."
The Memphis Police Department declined to comment further when contacted by Oxygen.com on Wednesday afternoon.