The Memphis Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have launched investigations into the action of officers involved in a traffic stop arrest of a man who later died and plan to take “immediate and appropriate action” against them, according to a release from the city.
On January 8, the police department announced officers pulled over a motorist for reckless driving the previous day. “As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred and the suspect fled the scene on foot,” officials said in a statement. posted on social media.
Officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take him into custody when another confrontation occurred before the suspect was apprehended, according to police.
“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” officials said.
The man, identified as Tyre Nichols, died a few days later, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The city’s release said the bureau is looking into the officers’ use of force and the police department is investigating whether agency policy was violated. The police department’s administrative investigation should be finished later this week, according to the news release.
Immediately following the incident, the officers involved were relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the investigations. Police did not release how many officers were involved in the incident.
“After reviewing various sources of information involving this incident, I have found that it is necessary to take immediate and appropriate action,” Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said in a statement released Sunday. “Today, the department is serving notice to the officers involved of the impending administrative actions.”
During community protests in Memphis on Saturday, Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, while standing next to a photo of Nichols in the hospital, told News84Media affiliate WMC“You shouldn’t be on a dialysis machine looking like this because of a traffic stop.”
Details about the injuries Nichols suffered or his cause of death have not been released.
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, is calling for the police department to release the body-worn camera footage of the incident.
“This kind of in-custody death destroys community trust if agencies are not swiftly transparent. The most effective way for the Memphis Police Department to be transparent with the grieving Nichols family and the Memphis community is to release the body camera and surveillance footage from the traffic stop,” Crump said in a 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,” according to the city’s news release.
“We want citizens to know that we are prepared to take immediate and appropriate actions based on what the findings determine,” he added.
Neither Davis nor Strickland elaborated on what action will be taken against the officers.
According to the city’s news release, “there is a required procedural process before government civil service employees can be disciplined or terminated from employment.”
News84Media has reached out to the police, the Shelby County District Attorney, the Shelby County Coroner and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for more on the investigation.