Law enforcement across US preparing for possible protests after release of video in Tyre Nichols case
From CNN's Whitney Wild
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are bracing for protests and potential unrest following the anticipated release of video showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers, multiple sources told CNN.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association, one of the leading professional law enforcement organizations, has convened several calls with member agencies, according to the group's Executive Director Laura Cooper.
A law enforcement source familiar with the national coordination told CNN that in at least one of those calls, Memphis police told participants to be on alert for unrest. The source added there was an additional call among Washington, DC, law enforcement agencies to coordinate responses and share information.
The source said that agencies such as US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department are adding additional staffing to prepare for potential violence. The source added that with the Capitol Police, for example, civil disturbance units have been activated and additional command staff will be brought in.
The video is expected to be released soon.
Some background: Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after Memphis police pulled him over in a traffic stop and used force to arrest him Jan. 7. He died from his injuries three days later.
Five Memphis police officers, who are also Black, were fired for violating policies on excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid, the department said. A prosecutor has said a decision on whether to file charges is forthcoming.
1:33 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023
Tyre Nichols was a family man who enjoyed skateboarding, photography and sunsets
From CNN's Christina Zdanowicz and Jaide Timm-Garcia
Tyre Nichols was a father, a man who loved his mama and a free-spirited soul who was looking for a new life in Memphis, Tennessee.
Now, as attention turns toward potential charges for the officers involved, Nichols’ family wants the world to know the man Nichols was.
The 29-year-old was the baby of his family, the youngest of four children. He was a “good boy” who spent his Sundays doing laundry and getting ready for the week, his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said.
Above all else, Nichols loved being a father and loved his son, his family said.
“Everything he was trying to do was to better himself as a father for his 4-year-old son,” attorney Benjamin Crump said at the family’s news conference.
Nichols was someone who brought everyone joy. “When he comes through the door, he wants to give you a hug,” Crump said, speaking on behalf of Nichols’ family.
Nichols’ daily life was ordinary at times, as he worked and spent time with family, but he also made time for his passions, his mom, Wells, said.
Nichols worked the second shift at FedEx, where he had been employed for about nine months, she said.
He came home during his break to eat with his mom, who would have dinner cooked.
Nichols loved his mom’s homemade chicken, made with sesame seeds, just the way he liked it, Wells said.
When he wasn’t working, Nichols headed to Shelby Farms Park to skateboard, something he had been doing since he was 6 years old. He would wake up on Saturdays to go skate or sometimes, he’d go to the park to enjoy the sunset and snap photos of it, his mom said.
“My son every night wanted to go and look at the sunset, that was his passion,” she said.
Following his death, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) said five of its officers were terminated for violating multiple department policies during the traffic stop.
"The Memphis Police Department has concluded its administrative investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Tyre Nichols," MPD said in a news release on Jan. 20. "After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five (5) MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid."
The five officers involved in the stop were fired from the police department, according to the release.
"Earlier today, each officer charged was terminated from the Memphis Police Department," the release read.
"The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work that our officers perform, with integrity, every day," the release added.
What we know so far about the incident: CNN previously reported that on Jan. 8, the police department announced officers pulled over a driver for reckless driving the previous day.
“As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred and the suspect fled the scene on foot,” officials said in a statement posted on social media.
Officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take him into custody when another confrontation occurred before the suspect was apprehended, according to police.
“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.
Jan. 7: At approximately 8:30 p.m. local time, officers pulled over a vehicle for suspected reckless driving, according to a statement from Memphis police.
“A confrontation occurred” between officers and the vehicle’s driver – later identified as Nichols – who then fled on foot, according to Memphis police. Officers apprehended him and “another confrontation occurred,” resulting in Nichols’ arrest, police said.
An ambulance was called to the scene of the arrest after Nichols complained of shortness of breath, police said, and he was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Jan. 10: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Nichols had died due to injuries sustained in the “use-of-force incident with officers,” according to a statement.
Jan. 15: The officers involved were relieved of duty – a standard departmental procedure while an investigation into their use of force began, Memphis police said. The TBI and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office were also enlisted to investigate.
Preliminary findings indicated the serious nature of the officers’ conduct during the stop, police said.
“Today, the department is serving notice to the officers involved of the impending administrative actions,” Chief Davis said in a statement.
Jan. 18: The Department of Justice said a civil rights investigation has been opened into the death of Nichols. Kevin G. Ritz, US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee declined to provide further details.
Jan. 20: After its internal investigation, Memphis police identified and fired five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith — involved in the traffic stop due to their violation of multiple department policies.
Nichols family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci called the firing of the five officers “the first step towards achieving justice for Tyre and his family.”
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” were also fired, department Public Information Officer Qwanesha Ward told CNN.
Jan. 23: After meeting with officials to watch the unreleased police video of the arrest, Nichols’ stepfather said: “What I saw on the video today was horrific. No father, mother should have to witness what I saw today.”
Attorney Romanucci said, “He was defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was an unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes. That is what we saw in that video. Not only was it violent, it was savage.”
CNN’s Nick Valencia, Chris Boyette, Jamiel Lynch, Raja Razek, Eric Levenson, Dakin Andone, Theresa Waldrop, Steve Almasy, Sara Smart and Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.
12:49 p.m. ET, January 26, 2023
Memphis police chief: "This is a failing of basic humanity"
From CNN’s Chris Boyette
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis released remarks Wednesday night on the death of Tyre Nichols, ahead of reports that charges against the officers seen beating him on video are forthcoming and the body camera footage will soon be made public.
“This is not just a professional failing,” Davis said of the officers’ alleges conduct. “This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
The Memphis Police Department has fired five officers, all of whom are Black, for violating policies on excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid, the department previously said.
Davis said that other Memphis police officers are still under investigation for department policy violations related to the incident but did not elaborate.
With the possible announcement of charges against the officers and impending release of the body camera footage, the police chief spoke to the reaction of the people of Memphis, urging that “in our outrage and frustration” people remain nonviolent.
“I expect our citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to protest to demand action and results. But we need to ensure our community is safe in this process,” Davis said. “None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.”