January 27, 2023 news on the death of Tyre Nichols

By Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Matt Meyer, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 8:38 AM ET, Sat January 28, 2023
25 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:17 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Tyre Nichols' mother says she hasn't had time to grieve. "I'm still dealing with the death of my son"

RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols' mother, speaks on Friday at Mount Olive Baptist Church.
RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols' mother, speaks on Friday at Mount Olive Baptist Church. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Tyre Nichols' mother RowVaughn Wells gave an emotional speech at a Friday news conference, saying she is still processing her son's death, and hasn't had time to grieve.

"I still haven't had time to grieve yet. I'm still dealing with the death of my son. This was not supposed to happen. My son was supposed to be with me today," she said.

Wells said she will always know that she will be with him because he had a tattoo of her name on his arm. "My son loved me to death and I loved him to death," she said, "And so this is very difficult for me."

"No mother should go through what I'm going through right now. No mother. To lose their child to the violent way that I lost my child," she added.

“My son was a beautiful soul. He was a good boy. No one’s perfect, but he was damn near,” she told reporters.

Ahead of the video release of Nichols' arrest, she asked parents to not let their children watch it.

“I’ve never seen the video, but what I’ve heard it’s very horrific, very horrific,” she said. “And any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it.”

Watch here:

CNN’s Paradise Afshar contributed to this reporting

5:14 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Tyre Nichols' family attorney calls for disbanding of Memphis police's SCORPION unit

Attorney Antonio Romanucci speaks about the "SCORPION Unit" at a news conference in Memphis.
Attorney Antonio Romanucci speaks about the "SCORPION Unit" at a news conference in Memphis. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Tyre Nichols' family attorney Antonio Romanucci called on Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis to disband the "SCORPION Unit" immediately, and asked chiefs across the country to review their respective units and disband them as well.

"The saturation units are given whispered impunity ... in order to carry out their design. They can't collect guns, they can't find stolen cars unless they unwittingly trap innocent people in this web. Therefore, we are asking chief Davis to disband this SCORPION unit effective immediately. Immediately," he added.

These units "wind up oppressing the people that we care about the most — our children, our young sons and daughters, who are Black and brown, because they are the most vulnerable," Romanucci said, accusing the unit of "creating a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior."

Some background: At least two of the officers charged in Nichols’ death were members of the Memphis Police SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods) unit, according to their own attorneys. The units are not unique to Memphis.

Romanucci added: "The intent of the SCORPION unit has now been corrupted. It cannot be brought back to center with any sense of morality and dignity, and most importantly trust in this community."

"How will the community ever, ever trust a scorpion unit?" he asked. "The intent was good. The end result was a failure, and we must recognize that and do something about it."

He reiterated: "I call on all chiefs in this country to review their saturation units, to review their special squad units, and disband them, because they can easily become corrupted when they are told they are whispered in their ear, 'act with impunity.'"

2:21 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Nichols' stepfather says family is "satisfied" with charges against officers and urges peaceful protests

Tyler Nichols' stepfather Rodney Wells speaks about the family's call for peace once the video is released.
Tyler Nichols' stepfather Rodney Wells speaks about the family's call for peace once the video is released. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Tyre Nichols' stepfather Rodney Wells reiterated the family's call for peaceful protests following the expected release tonight of the video showing his son's traffic stop that resulted in murder charges for five former Memphis officers.

"We're very satisfied with the charges," he said during a news conference with the family's attorneys. "More importantly, we want peace. We do not want any type of uproar. We do not want any type of disturbance, we want peaceful protests, that's what the family wants. That's what the community wants." 

"Please, please protest but protest safely," he said.

"The family is very satisfied with the process, with the police chief, the [district attorney]. They acted very, very quickly in this case. We are very, very pleased with that," he added.

12:54 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Family attorney urges police unions to speak up after Nichols' death

An attorney for Tyre Nichols' family, Antonio Romanucci, called on police unions to make statements after five former Memphis officers were charged with murder in Nichols' death.

"We want to know where are the unions? Where does the Fraternal Order of Police stand on this? We have not heard from you," he said during a news conference Friday in Memphis. 

He continued: "We want to hear from you. We want to hear you say that what happened to Tyre, what happened to this family, should never ever happen again, that you condemn the brutality, the savagery, the terrorism, the heinousness, the vulgarity of these actions and we should all stand for that. You don't have to be a police union. We all have to just have a soul and a heart."

2:24 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Tyre Nichols' family wants his legacy to spur police reform, attorney says 

Attorney Benjamin Crump speaks at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Memphis on Friday.
Attorney Benjamin Crump speaks at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Memphis on Friday. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Ben Crump, an attorney for the family of Tyre Nichols, said his parents "want reform with these charges" against five former Memphis police officers in the death of Nichols.

Nichols mother, RowVaughn Wells, and his stepfather, Rodney Wells, want "reform that we can try to prevent some of these hashtags of Black and brown people being unjustly killed by police," Crump said while standing beside them at a news conference in Memphis Friday.

Crump called for the creation of a "Tyre law" that could "emphasize the importance of police officers ... to have a duty to intervene when they see crimes being committed — even if those crimes are being committed by their fellow officers."

"That will be the appropriate legacy that we give Tyre Nichols; if we really think we want justice for justice, it's not justice for one family, it's justice for all of us, that's want RowVaughn is praying for," he said.
1:05 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Family attorney: Swift action against former officers in Nichols' death should be a "blueprint" going forward

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Ben Crump, the attorney for Tyre Nichols' family, applauded the Shelby County district attorney office for bringing charges against the five former Memphis officers involved in Nichols' death.

"We applaud the district attorney for bringing charges against the five officers for second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Very important charges against these five officers," he said in a press conference on Friday.

The action taken against the former officers provide a blueprint for America in cases of police brutality, he added.

"We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time, any officers, whether they be Black or White, will be held accountable. No longer can you tell us we got to wait six months to a year even though we got a video with evidence of the excessive force in the crime," he said.

Crump listed the names of other people killed by law enforcement who were not afforded the same timetable.

“Tyre deserved it. Tamir Rice deserved it. Ronald Greene deserved it. Alton Sterling deserved it. Eric Garner deserved it,” he said.

“We have a precedent that had been set here in Memphis, and we intend to hold this blueprint for all America from this day forward,” the attorney added.

CNN's Amanda Watts contributed reporting to this post.

1:42 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

NOW: Tyre Nichols' family holds news conference

Attorney Ben Crump speaks during a news conference on Friday.
Attorney Ben Crump speaks during a news conference on Friday. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Tyre Nichols' family and family attorney Ben Crump are holding a news conference in Memphis, Tennessee, hours before the expected release of videos from his arrest.

The family's attorneys were able to view video from the arrest earlier this month. Five Memphis officers were charged Thursday in the death of Nichols.

In an emotional interview with CNN's Don Lemon earlier Friday, Nichols' mother and stepfather described watching a brutal beating and the inhumane treatment of their son in the clips they reviewed.

Crump and the family are addressing reporters from Mount Olive Baptist Church.

12:16 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

What we know — and still don't know — about Tyre Nichols' death ahead of the video release 

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji

Tyre Nichols.
Tyre Nichols. (Courtesy Ben Crump and Nichols Family)

It’s been almost three weeks since a traffic stop in Memphis led to a violent arrest and, three days later, the death of the 29-year-old Black driver.

Tyre Nichols was hospitalized after he was pulled over on January 7, police have said. Five Memphis Police Department officers, who also are Black, were fired after an internal investigation and are facing criminal charges, including second-degree murder charges.

Key questions remain unanswered as the nation – already vigilant of how police treat people of color, especially following the mass protests of 2020 – waits for police to release footage of the incident. The video footage will be released sometime after 6 p.m. CT on Friday, officials said.

Here’s what we know — and still don't know about Nichols' death:

The police "confrontation": On January 7, around 8:30 p.m., Memphis 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.

It’s not clear what about his driving might have appeared reckless, how far Nichols fled on foot, who was involved in the initial police encounter, how officers apprehended him, how long these “confrontations” lasted, why officers felt compelled to confront Nichols twice and where exactly this happened.

At a Thursday news conference, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said there was an “elapsed period of time” in getting medical help for Nichols when he was injured during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers.

Nichols' death: On January 10, three days after the stop, 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.

Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to preliminary results of an autopsy commissioned by attorneys for his family.

CNN has asked Crump for a copy of the autopsy commissioned by the family, but he said the full report is not yet ready. Officials have also not released Nichols’ autopsy.

Who was Tyre Nichols? Nichols was the baby of his family, the youngest of four children and he loved being a father to his son, his family said.

He was a “good boy” who spent his Sundays doing laundry and getting ready for the week, his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said.

Nichols moved to Memphis before the Covid-19 pandemic and got stuck there when things shut down, his mother said.

When he wasn’t working the second shift at FedEx, Nichols enjoyed photography and skateboarding, something he had been doing since he was 6.

Nichols had Crohn’s disease, a digestive issue, and was a slim 140 to 145 pounds despite his six-foot-three-inch height, his mother said.

What police have said since the incident: On January 18, the Department of Justice said a civil rights investigation was opened into Nichols’ death. The Memphis police chief condemned the actions of officers involved.

“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said in a YouTube video Wednesday, her first on-camera comments about the arrest that preceded Nichols’ death.

Family and attorneys have seen footage of the incident: Family attorneys did watch the video on Monday and described it as “heinous.” Nichols was tased, pepper-sprayed and restrained, Benjamin Crump said, and compared it to the Los Angeles Police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Crump described the video as “appalling,” “deplorable” and “heinous.”

11:47 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Garland urges any protesters to listen to Nichols family's calls for nonviolent demonstrations

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press on Friday.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press on Friday. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and echoed their calls to keep any protests peaceful.

"We have opened last week a federal civil rights investigation with the color of law statute, which we will be investigating. We have been working in support of the state and local law enforcement in this matter, and we will continue to do so," Garland told reporters during an unrelated news conference.

"I do want to say, and I want to repeat what the family has said, that expressions of concern when people see this video, we urge that they be peaceful and nonviolent. That is what the family has urged and that of course is what the Justice Department urges as well," Garland said, adding that he had not seen the video, but he had been briefed on it.

"I can't imagine the feelings that parents must feel under these circumstances," he added.

FBI Director Chrisotpher Wray told reporters that he had seen the video of Nichols’ arrest and that it was “appalling.” 

“I’m struggling to find a stronger word but I can tell you I was appalled,” Wray said.

CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz contributed reporting to this post.