On Jan. 7, officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith had pulled Nichols over for reckless driving, when things got out of hand.
According to a police statement there was a confrontation, resulting in Nichols taking off on foot. The officers caught up to him and another confrontation ensued, before they took him into custody.
All five officers are Black.
The 29-year-old started complaining of breathing issues. He was taken to the hospital, listed in critical condition, and died three days later.
Nichols’ family has been sharing a graphic image of the victim laying in the hospital, saying he was unrecognizable. His face appeared swollen and bruised, with a breathing tube coming out of his bloodied mouth. While MPD hasn’t shared more details regarding the arrest, the family believes Nichols was tased, pepper-sprayed, and beaten severely.
“They must’ve pulled him out of the car aggressively and he feared for his life, so he ran,no one should die from a traffic stop.” Nichols’
stepfather Rodney Wells said
Several investigations have been open regarding this incident, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Justice. The NAACP made a statement saying the organization “will keep close watch of this matter.”
The family is being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Antonio Romanucci. Both are calling for the release of body camera footage, but are slightly satisfied with the officers being fired.
“They must also be held accountable for robbing this man of his life and his son of a father,” Crump and Romanucci said.
After making national headlines, Memphis city officials were open to cooperating with police investigations.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis already made a statement condemning the officers actions, saying they used “excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.”