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Video of fatal Memphis traffic stop “reminder of Rodney King“ – Crump


Officers who were terminated after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended with the death of Tyre Nichols, pose in a combination of undated photographs in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. From left are officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean. Memphis Police Department/Handout via REUTERS.

The video of Memphis police beating a Black man who died after a traffic stop on Jan. 7 reminded civil rights attorney Ben Crump of the assault on Rodney King, Crump said after viewing the police bodycam recording with the man’s family on Monday.

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old father of a 4-year-old boy, died in the hospital on Jan. 10 of injuries he sustained during his arrest by five officers, all of whom have been fired.

“He was a human pinata for those police officers,” said attorney Tony Romanucci, Crump’s co-counsel.

The department determined after an investigation that the officers violated multiple policies, including using excessive force, failing to intervene and failing to render aid.

Crump said the video reminded him of how Los Angeles police repeatedly beat King in video captured by a witness in 1991, sparking protests and reforms in the department.

“Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video,” said Crump, who previously represented the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin. “Regrettably, unlike Rodney King, Tyre didn’t survive.”

Nichols was less than 100 yards (meters) from home during the traffic stop and called out for this mother three times at the end of the video, Crump told a news conference.

Crump viewed the police bodycam video with Nichols’ family, later telling reporters that local, state and federal investigators promised to release the video to the public within a week or two. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, FBI and Justice Department are investigating the incident in addition to Memphis police and the Shelby County District attorney.

Memphis police are cooperating, said Chief Cerelyn Davis.

“Transparency remains a priority in this incident, and a premature release could adversely impact the criminal investigation and the judicial process,” she said.

Nichols’ family said he suffered injuries including brain swelling and kidney failure and was placed on dialysis before he died, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper.

Relatives told WREG television it was especially hurtful because all the officers involved were Black.

A photo of a bloodied, intubated Nichols was released to the public. It helped fuel multiple days of protests and calls of “Justice for Tyre” in Memphis, a city with a majority Black population. A demonstration was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day outside the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where the civil rights leader was shot dead in 1968.

Memphis police on Friday identified the former officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith. Each had served with the department approximately 2-1/2 to 5 years.

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