Tennessee man who died 3 days after police stop ‘suffered extensive bleeding,’ lawyers say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Preliminary findings of an independent autopsy showed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding” after what police described as a “confrontation” following a traffic stop by Memphis police officers, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said Tuesday.

Nichols’ death sparked community protests, an ongoing federal civil rights investigation and calls for the officers involved to be charged. The findings come a day after Nichols’ family, activists, and the attorneys watched footage of the incident.

“We can state that preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023,” Crump and Romanucci said in a joint statement.

Nichols was “kicked” and was subjected to “multiple uses of force” during the “unadulterated…beating of [Nichols] for three minutes,” Romanucci said.

Although a full autopsy report was not released, Crump and Romanucci said more details would be disclosed at a later date.

How did Tyre Nichols die?

Nichols was taken to a hospital in critical condition Jan. 7 after a he was stopped by officers from the Memphis Police Department. After two “confrontations,” Nichols “complained of a shortness of breath,” MPD said in a statement. MPD has not clarified what happened during those “confrontations.” 

5 officers fired, 2 firefighters ‘relieved of duty’ after stop

The five officers involved in the stop were placed on administrative leave immediately following the incident and were fired Friday following a hearing. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith had been with the department since Aug. 2020, Aug. 2020, March 2018, March 2017, and March 2018, respectively.

The department cited multiple department policy violations, including those on use of force, failure to render aid and their duty to intervene.

Two Memphis firefighters were also “relieved of duty” pending an internal investigation into their actions after the traffic stop, a fire department spokeswoman said.

Video viewed by family to be released publicly

Footage from the incident will be released publicly in the coming weeks, MPD said in a statement Monday. Crump said at a press conference Monday the video “reminded us of the Rodney King video…But unlike Rodney King, Tyre didn’t survive.”

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Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.