Lawyer for Nichols family says Tire Nichols was ‘human piñata’ to police

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MEMPHIS—Tire Nichols screamed for his mother three times—“Mother! Mommy! Mama!” – as officers beat him less than 100 meters from his home, according to his family’s lawyers who watched the police video with his parents for the first time on Monday.

Nichols, 29, was pronounced dead at a hospital three days after being arrested by five Memphis police officers, who have since been fired by the department. Authorities have shown the arrest footage of the Nichols family, but have not yet released the video to the public.

Family members said Nichols died of kidney failure and cardiac arrest on Jan. 10, three days after his encounter with police. A police spokesman said officers pulled Nichols over for reckless driving and Nichols fled on foot before being arrested.

“What I saw on the video today was horrible,” Nichols’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, told a news conference on Monday afternoon. “No parent should see what we had to see today. Justice for us is Murder One. Anything below that we will not accept.”

The department said it would release the arrest video to the public after the family had a chance to view it, but did not provide a more specific timeline.

“An early release could adversely impact the criminal investigation and prosecution,” Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said in a statement on Monday.

Nichols, 29, was the father of a four-year-old boy, a skateboarder and — like his stepfather — a FedEx employee who worked the afternoon shift. After viewing the footage, his stepfather said he believed Nichols ran away from officers at the traffic stop because he feared for his life at the hands of the police.

Lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, said of the footage: “It’s terrible. It’s deplorable. It’s hideous. It’s violent.”

Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died on Jan. 10 after sustaining injuries during a confrontation with Memphis police three days earlier. (Video: AP)

Co-Counselor Antonio Romanucci described Nichols as a “human piñata for these officers.” As he spoke, Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, burst into tears and screamed, “Oh my God!”

Crump said the Shelby County District Attorney told him and Nichols’ relatives that the video would not be released for another week or two while the investigation is ongoing. As the police chief prepared the family to watch the video, Crump said, she told them, “I’m not proud of what you’re about to see.”

Nichols’s family has spent the nearly two weeks since his death in protest, putting together demands that the department release body and surveillance camera footage and calling for officers to be criminally prosecuted. They shared a photo of Nichols’ beaten face as he lay in a hospital bed before his death.

His mother said Nichols suffered from Crohn’s disease and weighed no more than 145 pounds. “Nobody is perfect, but he came close. My son loved me to death,” she said. “My son did not use drugs. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t like confrontation.

The Justice Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are conducting separate investigations into the arrest.

The Memphis Police Department announced the firing of the five officers late on Friday — a relatively quick decision compared to most other administrative investigations that occur after deaths in police custody across the United States. The department’s investigation found that the officers – all black – used excessive force, failed to intervene and render assistance, in violation of department policy.

The officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – have joined the department over the past five years.

Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen D. Camper (D), whose district includes much of Memphis, praised what she described as Davis’ “quick and decisive” action to fire the officers. The revelation that all five are black triggered complicated emotions, she said.

“I think the citizens of Memphis were surprised,” Camper said. “They were deeply saddened by this, and to some extent people were shocked because of their own perceptions. How that changes the reaction, I don’t know.”

Crump said he felt a responsibility to fight for the constitutional rights of Americans injured by the police, regardless of the officer’s race.

“What I learned from doing this civil rights work against excessive force policing is that it is not the race of the officer that is the determinable factor in the amount of excessive force,” Crump said. the citizen.”

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