Tire Nichols: Man who died after ‘three-minute police beating’ was treated like ‘human piñata’ by police, family lawyer says US News

A man who died after allegedly being beaten by police for three minutes was a “human piñata” for police, according to a family lawyer.

Tire Nichols, 29, died in hospital three days after he was involved in a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, on Jan. 7.

The father of one of the men was arrested after being pulled over for reckless driving, police said.

Five black officers involved in the arrest were fired after a police investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene and help him.

Relatives have accused police of assaulting Mr Nichols and causing him to have a heart attack. But authorities only said he had a medical emergency.

Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for Mr Nichols’ family, said the beating lasted three minutes and “he was a human piñata for those police officers”.

Another attorney, Ben Crump, said body camera footage of the incident reminded the family and lawyers of the 1991 video of police beating Rodney King in Los Angeles, a year after a jury The police were acquitted, leading to riots in the city.

He said footage of the latest encounter showed it to be “violent” and “troubled on every level”, adding that it was “appalling”, “regrettable” and “outrageous”.

Mr Crump said the video would be released to the public but not for a week or two.

Investigators don’t want to show it yet because they don’t want to risk compromising the investigation, said Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

Photo of Tire Nichols in hospital.Photo: Associated Press
Photo of Mr Nichols in hospital.Photo: Associated Press

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fear of riots

City and community leaders fear the video could spark civil unrest if it is eventually released.

Mr Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said the family wanted any protests to remain peaceful.

Fantner, president of the Memphis chapter of the civil rights group NAACP, also said the city seemed tense as it waited for the video.

He praised the city and police department for “swift action” in firing the officers, identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith.

(L to R) Constables Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean
(L to R) Officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean have been fired

“No cause of death determined”

The day after Mr Nichols was arrested, the police department said when officers approached his car, “a conflict occurred” and he fled.

It said officers then caught up with him and “another confrontation occurred” while he was detained.

He complained of shortness of breath and was taken to hospital, according to police.

A cause of death has not yet been determined, officials said.

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