Nichols — described by family as a “good kid” who loved skateboarding, photography and his 4-year-old son — was arrested after officers stopped him for reckless driving. Police said in a statement the day after the encounter that “a confrontation occurred” as officers approached the vehicle and Nichols ran; they said officers caught up to him and that ”another confrontation occurred” while they were taking him into custody. Police said Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a hospital, where he died three days later.
Relatives have accused the police of beating Nichols and causing him to have a heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities have only said that Nichols experienced a medical emergency. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the arrest, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether excessive force was used.
Memphis police Director Cerelyn "CJ" Davis announced Friday that five officers involved in the arrest were fired after the police probe determined that they used excessive force or failed to intervene and render aid. The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.
All five officers are Black, though Crump said that was irrelevant and that Black and brown motorists often are treated differently than whites regardless of the officers’ race, and that the pain of Nichols’ death “is just the same.”
Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells, who said the family wants the officers charged with first-degree murder, told reporters that his stepson had good reason to run from the officers.
“Our son ran because he was scared for his life,” Rodney Wells said. “And when you see the video, you’ll see why he was scared for his life.”
Attorneys said Nichols can be heard on the video crying out for his mother.
RowVaughn Wells said that on the day of the arrest, her son was looking forward to a chicken she was going to cook for dinner that night.
“All my son was trying to do was come home,” said Wells, who sobbed during the news conference and told reporters Nichols was less than 80 yards (73 meters) from home when Memphis police officers “murdered him.”
“We’re going to get justice for my son, Tyre, if that’s the last breath I take,” she said.
After the family's news conference about 10 activists walked into the lobby of Mulroy's office to demand answers to why the district attorney was withholding the video from the public for up to two more weeks and why he hadn't charged the officers.
“People want to see what happened to Tyre,” activist Pamela Buress said. “And we’re angry about it.”
The Nichols case is the latest high-profile death to rattle the city. Since November 2021, Memphis has seen the fatal shooting of rapper Young Dolph in a daytime ambush at a bakery, a crime rampage in which a man has been charged with fatally shooting three people and wounding three others, the killing of a United Methodist Church pastor during a carjacking in her driveway and the early-morning kidnapping of a jogger whose body was later found near a house.
Associated Press video journalist Noreen Nasir, and reporters Rebecca Reynolds in Louisville, Kentucky, and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan, contributed to this story.
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