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Family of Memphis man who died after traffic stop asks police to release video

The family of a Memphis man who was hospitalized and died following a traffic stop with police is demanding the official release of body camera and surveillance footage from the encounter.

Tire Nichols was taken to hospital in critical condition after Memphis police officers arrested him for reckless driving on Jan. 7, the department said in a statement the next day. Nichols died in hospital three days later.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the Nichols’ family, is now asking police to release footage of the arrest, saying in a statement that “all available information indicates to us that it was the tragic and preventable death of a young man.”

Shoot Nichols.Courtesy family

“No one should ever die from a simple traffic stop – pictures are the only way to discern the true story of why and how this happened in Tyre,” Crump said.

Family members also protested outside the National Civil Rights Museum on Monday with demonstrators, holding signs with pictures of Nichols. Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, was among the family protesting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday weekend, NBC affiliate WMC reported.

“You shouldn’t be on a dialysis press looking like this because of a traffic stoppage,” Wells told WMC.

According to the Memphis Police Department, a “confrontation” occurred between Nichols and officers when they approached his car on January 7. He then took off on foot and the police chased him.

“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred, but the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” the department said in a Jan. 8 statement. “Subsequently the suspect complained of having shortness of breath, at which point an ambulance was called to the scene.”

Details of the confrontation were not released by police, but a photo of Nichols in hospital provided by his stepfather showed blood on his face and what appeared to be a swollen eye.

Members of Tire Nichols' family hold a press conference in Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday.
Members of Tire Nichols’ family hold a press conference in Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday.WMC

The Memphis Police Department said in its initial statement that the district attorney general’s office has been contacted and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations has been asked to investigate the incident. The officers, who have not been identified, have been relieved of their duties pending the outcome, a common practice.

On Sunday, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said the department was “notifying” officers of “imminent administrative action.” The ministry’s statement said it expects to conclude the “administrative disciplinary and investigation process” within the next week.

“After reviewing various sources of information regarding this incident, I have found that immediate and appropriate action is required,” Davis said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland told residents the city is “ready to take immediate and appropriate action” once the investigation is complete.

“There is no doubt that we take the department’s violations very seriously and, while we must complete the investigative process, our top priority is to ensure that justice is served quickly,” Strickland said.

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