Tire Nichols, a black man who died after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to preliminary results of an independent autopsy commissioned by his family’s attorneys.
Attorney Ben Crump said in a declaration that “preliminary findings indicate that Tire suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what family and attorneys witnessed on video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023. ”.
Nichols died three days after officers with the Memphis Police Department pulled him over for alleged reckless driving, as previously reported by CNN. In a statement, police claimed that clashes broke out between Nichols and the officers. After he was taken into custody, police said, Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
After viewing body camera footage of the incident on Monday, the family’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said Nichols was “defenseless the entire time. He was a human piñata for those policemen. It was an unadulterated, brazen, non-stop beating from this young man for three minutes.”
Five police officers, all black, and two members of the city’s fire department were fired after Nichols’ death.
Video of the incident could be released this week or next, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN’s Laura Coates Tuesday night, but he wants to make sure his office has interviewed everyone involved beforehand. to post the video so it doesn’t have an impact. about his statements.
“A lot of people’s questions about what exactly happened, of course, will be answered once people see the video,” Mulroy said, noting that he believes the city will release enough footage to show “the entirety of the incident, from the beginning. until the end.”
Prosecutors are trying to expedite the investigation and may be able to make a determination on possible charges “around the same time period that we contemplate the release of the video,” Mulroy said.
Authorities have not released Nichols’ autopsy. CNN asked Crump for a copy of the independent autopsy, but said the full report is not yet ready.
The death of Nichols, 29, on January 10, follows a series of recent high-profile cases involving police using excessive force towards members of the public, particularly young black men.
“It’s scary. It’s deplorable. It’s appalling,” Crump said Monday after viewing body camera video with Nichols’ family. “It’s violent. It’s problematic on every level.”
“What I saw on the video today was horrible,” said Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather. “No, father, mother should have to witness what I saw today.”
Ravaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, was not able to watch the first minute of the footage, Crump said, after hearing Tire ask, “What did I do?” At the end of the recording, Nichols can be heard calling her mother three times, the lawyer said.
Crump, who was joined by Nichols’ mother, stepfather, grandmother and aunt at a news conference, said the family described Nichols as “a good kid” who enjoyed skateboarding, photography and computers.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is doing research Nichols’ death and the US Department of Justice and the FBI have opened a civil rights investigation.
The Memphis Police Department initially said there was a confrontation after Nichols was taken into custody and “fled the scene on foot.” Officers gave chase and there was another confrontation before Nichols was taken into custody, police said in a statement. declaration on social networks
“Afterward, the suspect complained of having difficulty breathing, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” authorities said.
Nichols fled from the police, her stepfather said, because she was afraid.
“Our son ran because he feared for his life,” Wells said Monday. “He didn’t run because he was trying to get rid of drugs, weapons, nothing like that. He ran because he feared for his life. And when you watch the video, you’ll see why he feared for his life.”
The fire department employees who were laid off were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” and were relieved of their duties “while an internal investigation is conducted,” Qwanesha Ward, the department’s public information officer, told CNN’s Nadia Romero. Ward declined to elaborate, saying she was unable to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
When asked Tuesday what those fire department employees did or didn’t do, Romanucci told CNN there were “limitations” on how much he could say.
It added: “For a period of time before EMS services arrived on the scene, there was a fire on the scene. And they are there with Tire and the police officers before EMS arrives.”
The Memphis Police Department last week identified the fired officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith.
“The egregious nature of this incident is not a reflection of the good work our officers do, with integrity, every day,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said at the time.
The Memphis Police Association, the union that represents the officers, declined to comment on the firings beyond saying the city of Memphis and Nichols’ family “deserve to know the full account of the events leading up to his death.” and what might have contributed to it. .”