Breaking News
More () »

City of Memphis & MPD will cooperate with federal civil rights investigation into death of Tyre Nichols

"As this is an open investigation, we are not able to provide additional comment or release further information at this time," said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz.
Credit: AP
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal civil rights investigation is being opened into the death of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after a confrontation with Memphis Police during a traffic stop.

The United States Attorney’s Office along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Memphis field office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced the investigation Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

Kevin G. Ritz, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, said in a news release:

“Last week, Tyre Nichols tragically died, a few days after he was involved in an incident where Memphis Police Department officers used force during his arrest. State authorities have publicly announced that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating. In addition, the United States Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the FBI Memphis Field Office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, has opened a civil rights investigation. As this is an open investigation, we are not able to provide additional comment or release further information at this time.”

The City of Memphis released the following statement, saying it would cooperate with the federal investigation: "We are aware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and US Department of Justice are conducting a civil rights investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols. The City of Memphis and MPD will fully cooperate with these agencies and provide them with what is needed to conduct their investigation.”

There have been many calls for release of all surveillance and body camera video of the confrontation, including demands by attorney Ben Crump, whom Nichols’ family has retained.

During an event earlier Wednesday, Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy said he was in favor of releasing the video, but he wanted to make sure it did not impact the investigation.

“I'll tell you this, I'm in favor of transparency, I'm in favor of releasing video in such cases as soon as possible, subject to two qualifications, a) We have to do it legally and b) we have to do it such a way that doesn't compromise the investigation,” said Mulroy. “I am committed to releasing the video as soon as possible quite possibly before the TBI investigation is completed but I need to make sure we do it in a way that is a) legal and consistent with the statutes governing the release of the video and b) I want to make sure we don't it prematurely in a way that would compromise the ongoing investigation.”

The City of Memphis and MPD said Tuesday that video of Nichols’ arrest will be released when an internal investigation is completed, which could happen by the end of the week. In a statement, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief CJ Davis said they are arranging a meeting with Nichols family and Crump, and once the family has reviewed the video privately, it can be released.

Protesters Monday interrupted the mayor's MLK Day breakfast, calling for justice for Nichols. Saturday, Jan. 14, Nichols' loved ones joined community members for a protest outside of the Ridgeway Police precinct, calling for MPD to release body camera footage.

MPD said Sunday "its own administrative investigation" had been launched and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) continues to look into Nichols’ death. MPD said its investigation began on Jan. 7, the day they said Nichols was approached by officers for a traffic stop.

Investigators said around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, officers tried to make a traffic stop for reckless driving in the area of Raines Road and Ross Road, and MPD said a confrontation happened when officers approached the driver of the vehicle, identified as Nichols. MPD said Nichols ran away and then a second confrontation took place. According to MPD, Nichols told officers he was short of breath before being transported to St. Francis hospital in critical condition. The TBI said Nichols died on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

In the statement released Sunday, MPD Chief CJ Davis said, “After reviewing various sources of information involving this incident, I have found that it is necessary to take immediate and appropriate action. Today, the department is serving notice to the officers involved of the impending administrative actions.” 

In the same statement, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, "Make no doubt, we take departmental violations very seriously and, while we must complete the investigation process, it is our top priority to ensure that swift justice is served. We want citizens to know that we are prepared to take immediate and appropriate actions based on what the findings determine."

Before You Leave, Check This Out