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Tyra Nichols' family sues Memphis police over his death

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Memphis, Tenn. -‘s family tyre nicholsMan who died after brutal beating by five Memphis police officers files lawsuit officials and the city of Memphis on Wednesday, blaming them for their deaths and accusing officers of letting a special unit’s aggressive tactics go unchecked despite warning signs.

Federal lawsuit filed by attorneys Nichols’ mother, Rowan WellsSeeks jury trial and financial damages.

“It’s my turn to make sure my son’s death is not in vain,” Wells said at a news conference on Wednesday. “This has nothing to do with the monetary value of the lawsuit, but everything to do with accountability. Those five police officers killed my son. They beat him to death and they must be held accountable.”

The lawsuit claims Scorpion Unit initiated by Memphis Police Director Cerelin “CJ” Davis used “extreme intimidation, humiliation and violence” and “focused disproportionately and young black men targeted,” adding that Nichols was targeted because he was black. It says the department allowed this aggressive approach and ignored complaints by other residents targeted by the unit prior to Nichols’ death.

Police have said that the five officers who beat Nichols were members of the unit, which has since been disbanded.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said the lawsuit is seeking $550 million.

Crump said at Wednesday’s press conference that the lawsuit is meant to send a message to other cities. “We will bring these lawsuits to other cities where police are killing black and brown people,” he said. “If this happens in your city, we’re coming to your city as well,” adding that his mission is to make it unaffordable for police to continue to have these police units.

The city of Memphis declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Nichols died in January three days after the beating. It was the latest in a string of violent encounters between police and black people that sparked protests and renewed public discussion about police brutality.

In most cases, the officers have been white, but all five officers accused in Nichols’ death are black. Taddeus Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith have been charged with second-degree murder in Nichols’ death. He has pleaded not guilty.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the City of Memphis, Police Director Davis, five officers who have been fired and charged, another officer who has been fired but not charged, and an additional officer who retired before being fired. It is done. It also names three Memphis Fire Department employees who were fired after officers failed to render aid to Nichols.

The three officers who initiated the traffic stop claimed that Nichols was driving recklessly as he was walking home from a park on the evening of January 7. Davis has said she has seen no evidence justifying the traffic stop or officers’ response.

The lawsuit states that prior to stopping Nichols, Martin called in dispatch to run his license plate for a warrant or traffic violation and the response came back negative. Nonetheless, Martin, Haley and Hemphill pulled their squad cars up to Nicholls’ car when he was stopped at a red light and was boxed in.

The lawsuit states that Martin and Haley disabled their body-worn cameras. They ran to Nichols’ car and pulled him out without explanation. They were wearing black sweatshirts with hoods pulled down and did not identify themselves as police. Hemphill, meanwhile, “came out from his unmarked holster with his gun, placed sideways, and pointed squarely at the tire – for deploying deadly force on a non-resisting person for an unknown and undisclosed crime”. Ready.”

“What did I do?” The lawsuit says Nichols asked during the encounter and fled from officers after being pulled out of his car.

The officers pinned him to the ground and pepper-sprayed him, threatening to break his arm and fire a stun gun. According to police records, when Nichols managed to escape, Hemphill fired his stun gun.

Nichols was captured a few minutes later by Mills, Bean and Smith. According to the lawsuit, joined by Haley and Martin, “they brutally punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed and beat him with batons for seven minutes straight while he was physically restrained.”

A few feet from his home, Nichols was found so badly beaten that he was “unrecognizable,” the lawsuit says, comparing his case to Emmett’s nearly 70 years earlier and calling the authorities “a modern-day lynch”. was done by the “mob”.

“Unlike Till, this lynching was perpetrated by men dressed in department sweatshirts and vests and their actions were explicitly and implicitly sanctioned by the City of Memphis,” it said.

The officers’ own body cameras recorded them beating Nicholls and then ignoring him for nearly half an hour as the handcuffed and badly injured 29-year-old struggled to stay upright, sitting against an unmarked police car happened.

The lawsuit provides new details of the trauma Nichols suffered. He arrived at the hospital without a pulse, it states, and had suffered cardiac arrest. He was intubated and put on dialysis as his kidneys were failing. His face was so swollen that it was unrecognizable. His teeth were broken. His brain was swollen and was not able to function properly.

The lawsuit states that the city of Memphis hired Davis as police chief knowing he had played a major role with a special police unit in Atlanta, which was eventually disbanded after allegations of excessive force. was given, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit accused Davis of creating a similar unit in the Memphis Police Department that “implemented the same unconstitutional mandates, policies, and practices.” The lawsuit accused Davis and other police supervisors of accusing officers of engaging in illegal searches and seizures. Alleges of encouraging

The lawsuit accuses the Memphis Police Department of lowering the standards of who can become an officer and making it easier to graduate from the police academy by allowing the officers involved in Nichols’ beating to enlist multiple times. In addition to being underqualified, the new recruits were not properly trained in several areas, including probable cause, traffic stops, the Fourth Amendment, and use of force.

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