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Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after the arrest on January 7 and died three days later from injuries sustained, according to police.
Five officers from the Memphis Police Department, who are also Black, were fired and face criminal charges.
Two Memphis, Tenn., fire department employees have also been “relieved of duty” while an internal investigation is conducted in connection with the death.
Memphis Fire Department spokesperson Qwanesha Ward told NPR the employees — who were not identified — were “involved in the initial patient care” of Nichols. She did not go into further details.
Nearly three weeks after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, resulted in the violent arrest and subsequent death of a driver, American cities are now bracing for what they’ll see after Memphis PD releases the “heinous” footage.
The former officers were indicted on charges including murder and kidnapping, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Thursday.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin and Desmond Mills Jr., have each been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression, Mulroy said.
Second-degree murder is defined in Tennessee as a “knowing killing of another” and is considered a Class A felony punishable by between 15 to 60 years in prison.
Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis called the arrest of Tyre Nichols “a failing of basic humanity.”
According to CNN, the family of Nichols and attorneys have met with police and city officials to view the traffic stop’s video recordings, which have been described as a vicious, prolonged beating that lasted for minutes after officers chased down a fleeing Nichols.
The footage is expected to be released Friday evening.
Bracing the public for the worst, Chief Davis said, “This is not just a professional failing. 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.”
After charges were announced Thursday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said of the accelerated investigation, “We have worked to get a resolution to these matters in record time because we take them extremely seriously.”
“After reviewing various sources of information involving this incident, I have found that it is necessary to take immediate and appropriate action,” Chief Davis said in a statement released January 15. “Today, the department is serving notice to the officers involved of the impending administrative actions.”
While police brutality is egregious regardless of the offending officers’ race, the lightning speed in which these five Black officers have been directly blamed and charged stands in stark contrast to the snail’s pace of similarly offending White officers.
According to The Guardian, US law enforcement killed at least 1,176 people in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record for police violence since 2013 when experts first started tracking the killings nationwide, a new data analysis reveals.
Police across the country killed an average of more than three people a day, or nearly 100 people every month last year according to Mapping Police Violence.
Rodney King’s daughter empathizes with family of Tyre Nichols
Lora King tells TMZ the pain her family went through after her father Rodney King was brutally beaten by cops was indescribable — adding the whole thing continues playing on a loop in your head after seeing the video, as Tyre’s family has.
Lora was only 7 years old when the police brutality against her dad sparked nationwide outrage, which eventually erupted with massive riots when the involved LAPD officers were acquitted.
Lora advises Tyre’s family, “There’s no way to be normal after this.”
On January 7 at approximately 8:30 p.m., 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.
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.
The pathologist found that Nichols’ injuries were “consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police,” the attorneys said.
State of emergency declared in Atlanta ahead of Tyre Nichols footage
Cities across the country will likely be impacted by the overaggressive and inhumane nature of Friday’s video.
Fresh off their own protest last week over the death of 26-year-old activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, the city of Atlanta is already taking precautionary measures for ripple effects of what happened in Memphis.
In the days after Nichols’ death, his family’s attorney Ben Crump repeatedly voiced their desire for the release of body camera and surveillance footage of the traffic stop.
“This kind of in-custody death destroys community trust if agencies are not swiftly transparent,” Crump said in a statement.
President Biden comments on Nichols and police brutality
On Thursday, President Biden released a statement, reading in part: “Jill and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and the entire Memphis community. Tyre’s family deserves a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his death.
We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people.
To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between law enforcement, the vast majority of whom wear the badge honorably, and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.
As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable. Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.”
Read the full timeline of events here at CNN.