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Feds: Investigation into Tyre Nichols death could take time

 

Memphis, Tennessee. (AP) — U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that the federal investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols, a black man who died after being violently arrested by Memphis police, “may take some time.”

Speaking at a press conference, US Attorney Kevin J. Ritz said his office is working with the Justice Department’s civil rights division in Washington to investigate Nichols, who died three days after his January 7 arrest.

Ritz said he met with the Nichols family. He did not answer questions during the press conference.

“As I told Mr. Nichols’ family, our federal investigation may take some time. These things happen a lot,” Ritz said. “But we will be diligent and make decisions based on facts and the law.”

Nichols’ death led to three separate law enforcement investigations.

An internal police investigation concluded on Friday and resulted in the dismissal of the five black officers involved in the arrest, identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmit Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. Memphis Police Director Serelyn “CJ” Davis said the officers violated department policy by using excessive force and failing in their duty to intervene and provide assistance. All five officers were hired between March 2017 and August 2020, the police department said.

Last week, a federal civil rights investigation was announced. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation also investigated the officers’ use of force. The state police agency usually investigates when the police are involved in arrests resulting in death.

The video recording of the detention was not made public, but local authorities promised to release it this or next week.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told The Associated Press Tuesday that local and state investigators want to conduct as many interviews as possible before releasing the video. The timeline irritated some activists who expected the video to be released after the Nichols family viewed the footage, which happened on Monday.

Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the Nichols family, said police video viewed by the family showed that Nichols – a 29-year-old FedEx worker and father – was shocked, pepper sprayed and tied up when he was pulled over at a bus stop outside his home. . He was returning home from a suburban park where he photographed the sunset. The legal team said officers beat Nichols for three minutes in a “violent” melee reminiscent of the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

On Tuesday, Crump released a statement saying a forensic pathologist hired by the family performed an independent autopsy that showed extensive internal bleeding. The statement did not state the cause of death and did not include an independent pathologist’s report. The statement said that more details will be released at a later date. Tennessee authorities did not release Nichols’ autopsy data.

Relatives blamed the police for Nichols’ heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities only said that Nichols required emergency medical treatment.

Earlier, one of the fired officers was accused of using excessive force. Hailey was named a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit while she worked at the Shelby County Correctional Facility.

A lawsuit filed by an inmate in 2016 accused Haley and other corrections officers of beating him while checking for contraband in 2015. In 2018, the court dismissed the claim on procedural grounds. On Wednesday, Memphis police declined to answer questions about Haley’s employment.

Two Memphis fire officials have also been suspended while the agency investigates Nichols’ death. The Memphis Fire Department said in a statement that employees were involved in the initial care of Tire Nichols patients.

The agency said last week firefighters were “taken off duty” while an internal investigation was underway. No additional information was provided.

Nichols was arrested after police pulled him over for reckless driving. The day after the collision, the police said in a statement that “there was a skirmish” when police officers approached the vehicle while Nichols ran; they said the officers had caught up with him and that “another skirmish ensued” while they were taking him into custody. Police said Nichols complained of shortness of breath and was taken to hospital, where he died three days later.

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Associated Press contributor Rebecca Reynolds of Louisville, Kentucky contributed to this report.

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