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
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3:42 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Memphis Fire Department has received video of Nichols’ altercation with police as part of its investigation 

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

The Memphis Fire Department has received access today to the video of the altercation between Memphis police officers and Tyre Nichols, the department said in a Friday statement on Facebook.

“The Memphis Fire Department would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and loved ones of Tyre Nichols. As a result of the recent criminal investigation into the death of Mr. Nichols, the Memphis Fire Department did not receive full access to the video footage until today. The department is currently reviewing the footage and will be concluding our internal investigation early next week,” according to the statement. 

Two members of the department were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to Qwanesha Ward, the fire department's public information officer.

Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon earlier today, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said paramedics who were at the scene at some point during the traffic stop “failed to render proper care,” based on her assessment. 

“They began to render care and concern, but it was long after several minutes,” she said. “Which was concerning for all of us — that we see a number of failures where individuals did not exercise the amount of care that we are responsible for. No matter what the cause is, we are responsible for exercising care.”

CNN’s Amanda Watts contributed reporting to this post.

4:49 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Court date set for former Memphis police officers charged in death of Tyre Nichols

From CNN's Mark Morales

All five former Memphis Police officers indicted in the killing of Tyre Nichols will be arraigned Feb. 17, Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Public Information Officer Kevin Phipps told CNN. 

They will be arraigned at 10 a.m. ET before Judge James Jones, Phipps said.

All five are expected to be arraigned together, Phipps said, adding that Jones will allow cameras in the courtroom. The former officers are currently free on bond.


4:37 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

President Biden spoke with the Nichols family by phone this afternoon

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Sam Fossum

President Biden called Tyre Nichols' parents and talked to them for more than 10 minutes.
President Biden called Tyre Nichols' parents and talked to them for more than 10 minutes. (Emily Davies/The Washington Post)

President Joe Biden spoke by phone to the family of Tyre Nichols Friday afternoon, the White House confirmed.

Washington Post reporter Emily Davies posted a video on Twitter of the exchange between the president and Nichols' parents, who were sitting with attorney Ben Crump.

In the short video of what the reporter says was a 10-minute call, Biden can be heard talking about his own family tragedies as Crump holds the phone up to Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells.

The call with Biden came hours before the expected release of video from Nichols' arrest. The family held a news conference in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier Friday.

In a statement, the White House said Biden called the family to "express his and Dr. Biden's condolences" and praise the family for their "courage and strength." 

Biden's phone call was "very personal," according to outgoing White House chief of staff Ron Klain. 

"The president wanted to reach out to Tyre's family as a parent, as someone who's lost a child himself, and express his condolences, express his determination to continue to work on the issue of police reform. But mostly to connect with Mrs. Wells and other members of the family on a personal level. He did have a very personal phone call with them this afternoon," Klain said on MSNBC. 

Klain also emphasized the importance of peaceful protest. 

"I hope people will honor what Mrs. Wells has requested — that people be outraged about this, that people demand accountability and reform but that they do so peacefully," Klain said. 

3:07 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Memphis councilman who has viewed some video of Nichols' arrest says footage is "appalling"

From CNN's Sydney Kashiwagi

After viewing parts of the video of Tyre Nichols' arrest for the first time ahead of its expected release this evening, Memphis city councilman Frank Colvett told CNN it is “as appalling as we have been led to believe.”

Officers will have to answer to their charges when they have their day in court, Colvett said during an interview with CNN’s Abby Phillip. 

“It is sickening, but I want to reassure everyone that the legal process is going to go forward and the accused are going to have their day in court. They are going to be charged as they have been and they are going to answer to these charges,” Colvett said.

“This is not Memphis. This is not indicative of the Memphis Police Department,” he added.

The councilman, who said he watched two of a series of four videos, said it was difficult to say exactly how many, or if all, officers had participated in the beating of Nichols, but that, regardless, the officers’ actions “are clear.”

Asked if the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit, or SCORPION for short, was involved in Nichols' arrest should be disbanded, Colvett urged the public to watch the video first and “process that.” The unit was launched in November 2021.

“If this is indicative of the SCORPION Unit, obviously it will be disbanded,” Colvett said. “What I think we ought to do though is, let's process what we're about to all see and then thoughtfully, logically evaluate all this, and what we need to do and go forward so that we keep Memphis and Memphians safe.”

3:16 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

What we know so far about the Tyre Nichols arrest video that is set to be released publicly tonight

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji

Video footage of Tyre Nichols' violent arrest on Jan. 7 will be released on YouTube in four parts — showing the initial stop, the stop near Nichols’ home and body-worn camera footage of the individuals at the scene — sometime Friday evening, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said.

CNN has obtained portions of the police scanner audio leading up to the 29-year-old Black driver's arrest. Portions of the audio are inaudible, but a brief part of the conversation between an officer and the dispatcher can be heard.

An officer is heard saying, “We got one Black male running,” and giving instructions to “run that car registration tag and see what’s the address,” followed by what sounds like Nichols in distress.

It’s not clear where this audio fits in the sequence of the incident or which officer is speaking.

Family attorneys watched the video on Monday and described it as “heinous.” Nichols was tased, pepper-sprayed and restrained, family attorney Ben Crump said, and compared it to the LAPD beating of Rodney King.

Crump described the video as “appalling,” “deplorable” and “heinous.” He said Wells, Nichols’ mother, was unable to get through viewing the first minute of the footage after hearing Nichols ask, “What did I do?” At the end of the footage, Nichols can be heard calling for his mother three times, the attorney said.

Tyre Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, was unable to get through viewing the first minute of the footage, according to Attorney Benjamin Crump.
Tyre Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, was unable to get through viewing the first minute of the footage, according to Attorney Benjamin Crump. (Ariel Cobbert for CNN)

Nichols fled from the police, according to Rodney Wells, his stepfather, because he was afraid.

“Our son ran because he was scared for his life,” Wells said Monday. “He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.”

In timing the video's release, Davis told CNN Friday that “we thought about schools, we thought about businesses and we felt like Friday afternoon if there were individuals [who] decided they wanted to peacefully protest, at least other individuals would have gone home, schools would be out and it wouldn’t be as disruptive as it would have been if we released it on … on a Wednesday afternoon.”

“A lot of the people’s questions about what exactly happened will, of course, be answered once people see the video,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates Tuesday night, noting he believes the city will release enough footage to show the “entirety of the incident, from the very beginning to the very end.”

Five Memphis Police Department officers, who also are Black, were fired after an internal investigation and are facing criminal charges, including second-degree murder.

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."