Tyre Nichols suffered from 'extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating': Independent autopsy

Attorney Ben Crump described video footage as "heinous."

January 26, 2023, 12:16 AM

Tyre Nichols, the Black man whose death this month at the hands of five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers has triggered national outrage, suffered from "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating," according to a preliminary independent autopsy commissioned by the family.

"His observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7," the family of Tyre Nichols and their attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, said in a statement. "Further details and findings from this independent report will be disclosed at another time."

The autopsy was released by the family's attorneys who hired their own "highly regarded, nationally renowned forensic pathologist" to complete the report. The independent autopsy has not been released publicly.

In this photo provided by WREG, Tyre Nichols' stepfather Rodney Wells, right, holds a photo of Nichols in the hospital after his arrest, during a protest in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.
Jordan James/WREG via AP

Body camera footage of the incident has yet to be released, but Crump described the video as "appalling," "deplorable," "heinous," "violent" and "troublesome on every level" during a press conference Monday.

The family is cooperating with an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. Police said the bodycam video will be released within the next two weeks.

"Whatever it takes to clear my son's name and to get justice for my son," Rodney Wells told ABC News. "If they need to keep the video for two more weeks, then let them keep the video for two more weeks."

The Memphis Police Department announced on Friday that it fired the five police officers, all Black, involved in the incident, concluding the department's internal investigation.

The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith.

RowVaugn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, cries at a news conference in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Behind is Tyre's stepfather Rodney Wells.
Gerald Herbert/AP

The former police officers and the police union did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

Memphis Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis said that other Memphis police officers are still under investigation for Memphis Police Department policy violations in a video posted Wednesday evening.

After viewing the bodycam video, Davis called the officers' actions "heinous, reckless, and inhumane," adding that "when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves."

Chief Davis said that she expects those to protest following the video's release, but warns that even though she anticipates outrage, that "none of this is a calling card for inciting violence."

Nichols' family said he was kicked, pepper-sprayed and shocked with a stun gun, all while Nichols repeatedly asked, "What did I do?"

"Once the video started and I heard my son's voice, I lost it. I couldn't stay in the room. All I heard him say was, 'What did I do?' And once I heard that, I lost it," Rowvaughn Wells, Nichols' mother, told ABC News on Monday.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told ABC News his office is looking into possible criminal charges against the former officers. The family said it is hoping for murder charges.

Nichols was stopped by police on Jan. 7 for alleged reckless driving and was hospitalized in critical condition after complaining of shortness of breath during the arrest. Three days later, Nichols died.

"They handcuffed him and set him, propped him up on the car. And as he fell over they'd tell him 'sit back up,'" Rodney told ABC News. "You know, and he would slump back over again and they would make him sit back up. They never rendered any aid."

ABC News' Victoria J. Arancio contributed to this report.

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