What do we know about Tyre Nichols’s killing by Memphis police?

Five police officers have been charged with the murder of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.

A portrait of Tyre Nichols
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on January 17 in Memphis, Tennessee [Adrian Sainz/AP Photo]

Who was Tyre Nichols?

Nichols was a Black motorist who died on January 10 in a hospital three days after he was beaten by police at a traffic stop.

Nichols, 29, was a FedEx worker and father of a four-year-old boy. He was described by his family as a “good kid” who loved skateboarding and photography.

According to a media report, “he worked the second shift and would return to his mother’s house every evening around 7 o’clock for a meal break”.

What happened to Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee?

Police said they attempted to arrest Nichols on January 7 for reckless driving and a “confrontation occurred” as he tried to flee the scene on foot.

His family and lawyers, who were allowed to see body camera footage of Monday’s incident, said the footage showed officers beating up Nichols who was taken to a local hospital, where he died three days later.

The footage has not been released to the public, but lawyers said the video shows that he was beaten for three minutes in what they called a “savage” encounter.

Officers who were terminated after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended with the death of Tyre Nichols, pose in a combination of undated photographs in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. From left are officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean. Memphis Police Department/Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. UNPROCESSED VERSIONS OF THE PHOTOS HAVE BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
From left are officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean [Memphis Police Department/Handout via Reuters]

What is the latest on the investigation?

Five police officers from the Memphis Police Department have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

The five men, who are all Black, were sacked last week after an administrative investigation into the incident.

Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.

Who are these five police officers?

The former officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – are currently all in custody.

One of them, Haley, was previously accused of using excessive force. He was named as a defendant in a 2016 federal civil rights lawsuit while employed by the Shelby County Division of Corrections.

The plaintiff, Cordarlrius Sledge, said he was an inmate in 2015 when Haley and another corrections officer accused him of flushing contraband. The two officers “hit me in the face with punches”, according to the complaint.

What happens next?

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis promised “absolute accountability” for those responsible for Nichols’s death, calling the incident “heinous, reckless and inhumane”.

The video of the traffic stop will be released to the public on Friday evening and Davis said she expects people in the community to react, but urged them to do so peacefully.

“None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies