Tyre Nichols: Man who died after ‘three-minute police beating’ was treated like ‘human pinata’ by officers, says family lawyer | US News

A man who died after allegedly being beaten by police for three minutes was a “human piñata” for officers, according to a family lawyer.

Tyre Nichols, 29, died at the hospital three days after the January 7 collision during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee.

The father of one was arrested after being stopped for reckless driving, police said.

The five black officers involved in the arrest have been fired following a police investigation into whether they used excessive force or failed to intervene and assist.

Relatives have accused the police of assaulting Mr Nicholls and causing him to suffer a heart attack. But officials have only said it was a medical emergency.

Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for Mr Nicholls’ family, said the beating lasted three minutes and “he was a human pawn for these police officers”.

Another lawyer, Ben Crump, said the bodycam footage of the incident reminded family and lawyers of the infamous video of Los Angeles police beating Rodney King, a clip from the 1991 riots in the city.

He said footage of the latest encounter showed it was “violent” and “disturbing on all levels”, adding that it was “horrific”, “tragic” and “disgusting”.

Mr Crump said the video would be released to the public but not for a week or two.

According to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy, investigators don’t want to show it yet because they don’t want to risk compromising the investigation.

A photo of Tyr Nichols while he was in the hospital.  Photo: AP
Image:
A photo of Mr. Nichols while he was in the hospital. Photo: AP

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Fear of riots

City and community leaders are concerned that the release of the footage could spark civil unrest.

Mr Nicholls’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said the family hoped any protests would be peaceful.

Wayne Turner, president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights organization, also said the city is tense while waiting for the video.

He praised the city and the police department for taking “prompt action” in firing the officers, identified as Tadarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmet Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith.

(L-R) Officers Demetrius Healey, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmett Martin III, Justin Smith and Tederius Bain.
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(L-R) Officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmett Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarius Bean are fired.

‘No cause of death has been revealed’

The day after Mr. Nichols was arrested, the police department said that as officers approached his vehicle, “a confrontation occurred” and he fled.

It said officers then caught up with him and “another confrontation occurred” while they were taking him into custody.

According to the police, he complained of difficulty in breathing and was admitted to the hospital.

Officials said the cause of death has not been determined.



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