Tyre Nichols death: Ben Crump compares footage of fatal Memphis traffic stop to Rodney King’s beating

Tyre Nichols death: Ben Crump compares footage of fatal Memphis traffic stop to Rodney King’s beating
Lawyer Ben Crump (L) links the Tyre Nichols (R) video to the beating of Rodney King (Ben Crump/Twitter, 6WBRC/video screenshot)

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: The family of Tyre Nichols, a Memphis man who died only days after engaging in a Memphis police physical altercation, spoke on Monday, January 23, for the first time since watching the video of the incident that resulted in his death.

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Following Nichols' death, the family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Antonio Romanucci to represent them. The Memphis Fire Department also revealed on Monday that two MFD personnel engaged in the treatment of Nichols have been relieved from duty while an internal inquiry is underway, reported WSMV4.

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Who was Tyre Nichols and how did he die?

Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old Black man who worked for FedEx and was a father who enjoyed skating and photography, his pals told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Kris Volker, a friend of Nichols described him as nonconfrontational, upbeat, and a free spirit. “He was a loving guy and loved to make people laugh,” Volker told the newspaper. “We got our first tattoos together when we turned 18. He got a wolf on his leg because he felt that it was his spirit animal. He cared more about others than himself.”

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According to the first police report released on January 7, at 8:30 pm, Nichols was stopped by police for reckless driving. Nichols "fled the scene on foot" after a "confrontation occurred" when the officers approached him. Before the cops finally arrested him, according to the authorities, there was a second altercation. “Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene,” police said. Nichols was critically ill when he arrived at the hospital and died three days later, on January 10. The reason for the death has not been released by authorities, as reported by BuzzFeed.News.

What does the Memphis police footage show?

The tape was reviewed by family members and attorneys on January 23. They also visited with Memphis police officers. Crump stated that Nichols' mother was unable to watch the footage for more than a minute. "Tyre asked the officers, 'What did I do?' in the first minute,' Crump stated. According to Romanucci, Nichols was defenseless during the events seen in the video. He describes Tyre as a "human piata" while being thrashed by police. “Not only was it violent, it was savage,” Romanucci said. He claims Nichols was attempting to return home to be with his mother in a safe location.

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He claims the officers questioned why they were making traffic stops while driving unmarked cars. Some of the officers, he added, were wearing uniforms. According to the video, Nichols was tased, pepper sprayed, and restrained. He also added that before watching the film, Police Chief CJ Davis warned them she was not proud of what they were about to see. “Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video,” Crump added that the video is “appalling, heinous, violent and troublesome.” “We’re seeing evidence of what happens to Black and brown people from simple traffic stops. You should not be killed from a simple traffic stop.”

What does Tyre Nichols’ family have to say?

Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, says that no parent should ever witness what they did. “Family and the attorneys we have will not stop until we get justice,” he said. “And like I said from day one, justice for us is murder one, and anything less than that we will not accept.” Nichol's mother spoke highly of him and remarked on how much he enjoyed skating. She called him "near-perfect." "What they did to my brother might have killed us all," Nichols' sister Kenyana Dixon said at a protest last weekend.

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Volker, Nichols' buddy, said he was astonished and perplexed to learn of the course of events given by police, and that if Nichols did try to flee from the policemen, it was only "because he was scared." “He's never had to deal with police,” Volker said, “and as a Black man, he knows better than to fight cops. He was very vocal about BLM. I honestly never thought it would happen to him.”

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