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The family of Tyre Nichols and their lawyers including Benjamin Crump are speaking out against the Memphis police after seeing footage of him being brutally beaten at a traffic stop, leading to his death.
On Monday (Jan. 23), members of Tyre Nichols’ family and their lawyers spoke to the press about his death after privately viewing video footage of a confrontation with police officers from Jan. 7 when he was confronted at a stop 80 yards from his home. According to attorney Benjamin Crump, Nichols was beaten for three minutes, asking “What did I do?” Nichols would die of his injuries three days later.
Standing alongside Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, attorney Nicholas Romanucci, denounced the incident. “He was a human piñata for those police officers,”, he said. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.” He detailed seeing the officers restraining the 29-year-old, using a stun gun and pepper spray on him in the video footage.
The five Memphis police officers on the scene – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills and Justin Smith – were all fired after an internal investigation by the department found that they used excessive force. They, like Nichols, are Black. Crump stated in the press conference that this factor was immaterial to the case.
“It is not the race of the police officer that is the determining factor of the amount of force, it is the race of the citizen,” he said. “It is about the Black and brown citizens that get dealt excessive force from the police officers, whether they are Black, white or brown, and it has to stop.”
Investigations by the FBI and the Department of Justice in addition to those by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations have already commenced. The city of Memphis has promised transparency, which has led many to question when the footage of the incident will be released to the public.
“Family and the attorneys we have will not stop until we get justice,” said Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells. “And like I said from day one, justice for us is murder one, and anything less than that we will not accept.” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said in a statement that he expects the video to be released either this week or next.