Tire Nichols, a black man who died two weeks ago after a confrontation with Memphis police, suffered “profuse bleeding from a severe beating,” according to preliminary results of an autopsy commissioned by his family for his family.
“We can say that preliminary findings indicate that Thiel was bleeding profusely from the violent beating and that his observed injuries are consistent with what family members and attorneys witnessed in video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023,” Attorney Benjamin Crupp in a statement.
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 not released the results of Nichols’ autopsy.
Nichols, 29, was pulled over by Memphis police on Jan. 7 on suspicion of reckless driving, according to a police statement.
When officers approached the vehicle, there was a “confrontation” and Nichols fled on foot, police said. Officers pursued him and they had another “confrontation” before he was taken into custody, police said. Nichols then complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where he died three days later, police said.
Authorities have not released video of the arrest publicly. However, family lawyers who viewed the video on Monday described it as a heinous police beating that lasted three minutes. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Nichols was electrocuted, pepper sprayed and restrained, comparing it to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
The Memphis Police Department has fired five officers, all black, for violating policies regarding excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to provide assistance, the department said.
“The egregious nature of this incident does not reflect the good work our officers do with integrity every day,” Sheriff Cerelyn Davis said at the time.
Additionally, two members of the city’s fire department were fired.Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced investigation The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI have opened civil rights investigations into Nichols’ death.
The U.S. attorney leading the federal civil rights investigation said Wednesday that he met with Nichols’ family earlier this week and promised he would conduct a “thorough” and “methodical” investigation of the case.
“Our federal investigation may take some time, as often happens with these matters, but we will use diligence and make decisions based on facts and the law,” said Kevin Ritz, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
Nichols worked with his father at FedEx for about nine months, his family said. He loves Starbucks, skateboarding at Shelby Farm Park, photographing sunsets, and has his mother’s name tattooed on his arm. He also suffers from Crohn’s disease, a digestive problem, and weighs only 140 to 145 pounds despite his 6-foot-3 height, his mother said.
Nichols’ Jan. 10 death follows a number of recent high-profile cases involving excessive use of force by police against members of the public, especially young black men. Crump previously represented the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor.
Pastor Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and president of the National Action Network (NAN), said in a statement that he will deliver a eulogy for Nichols at his funeral in Memphis next week.
Family members and attorneys viewed footage of the incident on Monday and said they were disturbed by what was shown.
“He was defenseless the whole time. To those cops, he was a human piñata. There was three minutes of undisguised, undisguised, non-stop beatings on this little boy. That’s what we said in the video. Saw it,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci. “Not only violent, but brutal.”
“What I saw on video today was horrific,” Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells said Monday. “No, Daddy, what I saw today must have been seen by my mother.”
Crump called the video “shocking,” “regrettable” and “outrageous.” He said Nichols’ mother, Ravaughn Wells, was unable to watch the first minute of the video after hearing Nichols ask “What did I do?” At the end of the video, Nichols can be heard calling for his mother three times, the lawyer said.
Nichols fled police, his stepfather said, because he was scared.
“Our son ran away because he feared for his life,” Wells said Monday. “He didn’t run because he was trying to get rid of drugs, guns, nothing. He ran because he was afraid for his life. When you see the video, you can understand why he was afraid for his life.”
Video of the incident could be released this week or next, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates Tuesday night, but he wanted to make sure his office was in the loop. All those involved have been interviewed before the video was released, so it has no impact on their statements.
“Certainly, a lot of people’s questions about what happened will be answered once people see the video,” Mulroy said, noting that he believes the city will release enough footage to show “the whole thing, from the beginning to the end.” At last.”
Mulroy said prosecutors are trying to expedite the investigation and could make a decision on possible charges “in the same time frame we are considering releasing the video.”
The Memphis Police Department identified the fired officers as Tadarius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmett Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith.
Qwanesha Ward, fire department public information officer, told CNN’s Nadia Romero that the fired fire department employee was part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” and was removed “while an internal investigation is underway.”
Asked Tuesday what those fire department employees did or didn’t do, Romanucci told CNN he was “limited” in how much he could say.
“The fire was on the scene for a period of time before the EMS services got there. They were there with the tires and the police before the EMS got there,” he said.
The Memphis Police Association, the union representing the police, declined to comment on the firing, saying only that the city of Memphis and Nichols’ family “should be aware of a full record of the events leading up to his death and what may have led to it.”
One of the five officers fired after Nichols’ death was a defendant in a 2016 federal civil lawsuit in which an inmate at the Shelby County Correctional Center claimed to have been beaten and his civil rights violated . The lawsuit was later dismissed.
Demetrius Haley, who was a correctional officer at the time, was one of three Shelby County correctional officers who the plaintiffs allege took them to a restroom to be searched. The lawsuit was filed when the plaintiff was an inmate whom all officers accused of trying to flush contraband.
According to the complaint, “Hayley and McLean punched (plaintiff) in the face.” It goes on to say that plaintiff was picked up by a third corrections officer, hit his face in a sink, was thrown to the floor, and then They claim they “passed out” and woke up in the medical unit.
CNN has reached out to attorneys representing Hayley in the lawsuit. CNN also reached out to Shelby County Correctional Center for comment on Haley’s previous position.
Haley responded to the complaint, asking for it to be dismissed, according to court documents. The document does say that Haley and another corrections officer did search the inmate after “observing smoke,” and asserts that the inmate did try to flush contraband down the toilet, but Haley denies otherwise.
Haley and another defendant later filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case because plaintiffs had not exhausted administrative remedies. The motion was granted and the case was dismissed in 2018.
Haley was hired by the Memphis Police Department in August 2020, police said.