Memphis Police Treated Tyre Nichols Like 'Human Piñata', Lawyer Says

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Attorneys for the family of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died following a "confrontation" with Memphis police, spoke out for the first time on Monday (January 23) after viewing footage of the events leading to his death.

Nichols died on January 10, just three days after a traffic stop led to him being hospitalized.

Family members and attorneys met with Memphis police on Monday and viewed police camera footage of the moments before Nichols' death, Action News 5 reports. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said Nichols' mother was unable to get through more than a minute of the footage.

In the first minute, Tyre asked officers, “What did I do?” Crump said. The attorney described the video as “appalling, heinous, violent, and troublesome.”

“We’re seeing evidence of what happens to Black and brown people from simple traffic stops,” Crump said. “You should not be killed from a simple traffic stop.”

According to the Memphis Police Department, officers pulled Nichols over earlier this month for reckless driving. Officers chased Nichols after he "fled the scene on foot," and a "confrontation" followed before he was taken into custody.

“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” officials said.

Following his death, the Department of Justice and the FBI opened a civil rights investigation. The Memphis Police Department announced on Friday (January 20) that five officers were fired in connection to the incident.

Police Chief Cerleyn “CJ” Davis said in a statement announcing their termination that the “egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work our officers perform.”

Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video,” Crump said after viewing the police footage on Monday.

Antonio Romanucci, a second lawyer retained by the family, said Nichols was defenseless in the video, noting the 29-year-old was “a human piñata” as he was being beaten by Memphis police officers.

“Not only was it violent, it was savage,” Romanucci said.

It is unclear when the video will be released to the public.

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