Tyre Nichols: A timeline of the investigation into his death

ByKiara Alfonseca ABCNews logo
Saturday, January 28, 2023

Jan. 7, 2023: Tyre Nichols pulled over

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was pulled over by police for alleged reckless driving.

According to Nichols' mother, Rowvaughn Wells, Tyre was 2 minutes away from his home when he was pulled over.

Officials said that Memphis officers approached Nichols, who ran away.

Attorneys for Nichols' family said the body camera footage of the incident shows that Nichols did not originally run when being approached by officers. They say Nichols told police that "he was just trying to get home" from FedEx, where he worked, and yelled for his mother three times toward the end of the video. The body camera footage has not yet been released publicly.

Officers say they then pursued Nichols after he ran and apprehended him, police said.

After the incident, Nichols "complained of having a shortness of breath" and was transported by ambulance to Memphis' St. Francis Hospital in critical condition, according to police.

Due to Nichols' condition, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office was contacted and TBI special agents were subsequently requested to conduct a use-of-force investigation, according to the TBI.

The Memphis Police Department said at the time that the "officers involved will be routinely relieved of duty pending the outcome of" the TBI's investigation.

Jan. 10: Tyre Nichols' death

Nichols died three days after being detained by Memphis police.

Jan. 18: Federal investigations begin

Kevin G. Ritz, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that the FBI and DOJ are investigating the incident.

"State authorities have publicly announced that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating," Ritz said in a statement. "In addition, the United States Attorney's Office, in coordination with the FBI Memphis Field Office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, has opened a civil rights investigation."

Jan. 20: The firing of Memphis police officers

The Memphis Police Department announced that it fired five police officers following an investigation into Nichols' death.

The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They are all Black men.

"After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid," the department said in a statement.

Jan. 23: Family describes body camera footage

The video footage of Nichols' interaction with five Memphis police officers was viewed by Nichols' family and attorneys.

They described the video as "appalling," "deplorable," "heinous," "violent" and "troublesome on every level," according to Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family.

"What he was in that [video] was defenseless the entire time," said Antonio Romanucci, another attorney for the family. "He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for 3 minutes." Romanucci also mentioned that Nichols, who died January 10, was kicked during the footage.

The family said they saw the police kick, pepper spray and use a stun gun on their son all while Nichols repeatedly asked, "What did I do?"

Jan. 26: Independent autopsy released, officers charged

A grand jury indicted five officers involved in the Nichols incident. They have each been charged with murder and are in custody. They have been charged with "second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravating kidnapping, resulting in bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping involving the possession of a weapon official misconduct through unauthorized exercise of power, official misconduct through failure to act when there is a duty imposed by law, and official oppression," according to the Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

An independent autopsy, completed by a forensic pathologist hired by the family's attorneys, found that Nichols suffered from "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating," according to the family.

"His observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7," the family of Tyre Nichols and their attorneys said in a statement. "Further details and findings from this independent report will be disclosed at another time."

Memphis Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis called the officers' actions "heinous, reckless and inhumane," adding that "when the [body camera footage] is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves."

Chief Davis said that she expects protests following the video's release, but warns that even though she anticipates outrage, that "none of this is a calling card for inciting violence."

Jan. 27: Body camera footage released

Memphis officials released the footage of Nichols' confrontation with police.

Four videos were shared to Vimeo by the city of Memphis.

The city shared footage from three bodyworn cameras, as well as a pole camera, amounting to about 67 minutes total.

The videos included the warning: "Footage contains graphic content and language. Some may find offense. Viewer discretion is advised."

One clip is city surveillance video, which shows Nichols being hit, kicked and punched by several of the officers, including the use of a baton.

Another clip is body camera video, which shows the officers beating Nichols.

Another clip highlights audio in which Nichols can be heard yelling out "mom" several times. The clip later captures Nichols slumped on the ground next to a vehicle.

"Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols' death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day," President Joe Biden said in response to the footage.

The footage prompted protests across the country.

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