The family of Tyre Nichols has filed a $500 million federal civil lawsuit against the city of Memphis and its police department. It also names the officers, who docs claim were “unqualified, untrained, and unsupervised, involved in the brutal beating of 29-year-old Nichols.
At least five officers repeatedly punched and kicked Nichols following a traffic stop and short foot chase on Jan. 7. He was hospitalized for his injuries and died three days later.
Lawyers on behalf of his mother, RowVaughn Wells, filed the lawsuit.
This is Tyre Nichols living his best life, Damn….RIP🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/DmV2FMy3aU
— KwazKanCook (@Chef_Kwaz) January 28, 2023
Family Of Tyre Nichols File $500 Million Civil Lawsuit Against City Of Memphis, Its Police Department
The lawsuit said the deadly assault was the “direct and foreseeable product of the unconstitutional policies, practices, customs, and deliberate indifference of the City of Memphis” and its police officers.
The suit likened Nichols’ fatal beating to the 1955 killing of Emmett Till. Adding that, like Emmett, Nichols suffered a beating “endured at hands of a modern-day lynch mob.”
On Jan. 26, five police officers, who are also Black, were fired following an internal investigation and were indicted on criminal charges.
The five officers charged were part of the department’s specialized SCORPION unit– launched in 2021 to fight rising violent crime in Memphis. Memphis PD permanently deactivated the unit after the bodycam footage of Nichols’ arrest emerged in January.
Lawsuit Claims Five Officers Were “Unqualified, Untrained, And Unsupervised” In Their PD Unity
The Tennessee Commission recommends decertification of former Memphis police officers charged in connection to Tyre Nichols’ death. Meanwhile, the lawsuit said the fatal beating of Nichols went beyond five officers.
It called the 29-year-old’s death: “the culmination of a Department-ordered and Department-tolerated rampage by the unqualified, untrained, and unsupervised SCORPION Unit carrying out an unconstitutional mandate on the streets of Memphis without any fear of retribution or consequence.”
“Rather than ‘restore peace’ in Memphis neighborhoods, the SCORPION Unit brought terror,” the lawsuit said.
“In reality, it was an officially authorized gang of inexperienced, untrained, hyper-aggressive police officers turned loose on the Memphis community without any oversight. They were instructed to strike without warning and, many times, without any valid constitutional basis.”
Attorney Ben Crump announces the $500 million lawsuit against the city of Memphis and others in the death of Tyre Nichols pic.twitter.com/1e96VYfMrs
— Ben Wheeler (@brwheeler3) April 19, 2023
Bodycam, Surveillance Footage Contradict Initial Memphis PD Report, Officers Indicted On Criminal Charges
Bodycam footage and surveillance video from Nichols’ arrest were released a day later, publicly revealing the brutality of the beating and drawing widespread outrage while contradicting what officers said happened in the initial police report.
The footage prompted national outcry regarding justice in policing and reform in America, inspiring vigils and protests in Memphis and nationwide.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice is reviewing the Memphis Police Department. Additionally, the DOJ plans to separately review specialized units across the US to create a guide for their use.
On Feb. 17, the five former Memphis police officers who were indicted a month prior were arraigned on criminal charges, CNN reports.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr. face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression. If convicted of second-degree murder, which is a Class A felony, they face between 15 to 60 years in prison. All of the former officers have pled not guilty.
— Madisen Keavy (@madisenkeavy) April 19, 2023
Here’s A Rundown On EMS Responders Affected By Tyre Nichols Case
In February, police identified and fired a sixth officer Preston Hemphill–a White man. Officials accuse Hemphill of violating departmental policies, including personal conduct and truthfulness.
In March, a Memphis official revealed that a seventh officer had been fired. That officer’s name or reasons for the firing haven’t been announced. Several others have also been suspended or left the force following Nichols’ death.
Two emergency medical technicians and a fire lieutenant, who responded to the scene, were also fired. However, prosecutors haven’t criminally charged any of them.
Last month, a city official said a fourth fire department official was suspended. However, the official didn’t provide other details.