Two Memphis fire department workers involved in Tyre Nichols’ care relieved of duty

Fire spokesperson Qwanesha Ward said the staffers had a role in Nichols' "initial patient care," but couldn't provide further details.

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Two Memphis Fire Department employees who assisted in caring for Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died days after confrontations with police following a traffic stop, have been relieved of their duties.

The unidentified staffers were “involved in the initial patient care” of Nichols, according to fire department spokesperson Qwanesha Ward, who could not provide further information about the ongoing internal investigation, NBC News reported.

In an incident captured on police body camera footage, Nichols was pulled over by Memphis Police on Jan. 7 for alleged reckless driving. As the policemen walked up to Nichols’ car, officers claimed a “confrontation” ensued, and that they chased Nichols, 29, after he allegedly fled.

Tyre Nichols
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at his memorial service on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. Two Memphis Fire Department staffers have been relieved of duty for their role in the “initial patient care” of Nichols, who died days after a Jan. 7 traffic stop by Memphis police. (Photo: Adrian Sainz/AP)

“While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” police said in a statement on Jan. 8, according to NBC. “Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene.”

Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after being rushed to the hospital. In a photo made public by his family, he was shown in a hospital bed with blood on his face and a swollen eye.

In a statement sent to Twitter on Monday, Memphis police said they are coordinating with the district attorney’s office to decide the best timing to disclose the video footage publicly. The Justice Department and the FBI’s Memphis field office also launched a civil rights investigation into the incident.

The five Memphis policemen engaged in Nichols’ traffic stop were fired after an administrative investigation found they had broken departmental rules, Police Chief C.J. Davis said. Officials identified the officers — who are Black — as Justin Smith, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Tadarrius Bean.

Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump and lawyer Antonio Romanucci, who represent Nichols’ family, said in a statement that preliminary results of an independent autopsy show Nichols suffered extensive bleeding from a severe beating. The forsensic pathologist’s “observed injuries,” the attorneys said, “are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023.”

According to NBC, Crump compared what happened to Nichols to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.

“What we can tell you about the video: It is appalling, it is deplorable, it is heinous … violent,” Crump said, according to NBC. “And it’s very troublesome on every level, because you have to ask yourself, yet again, we’re seeing evidence of what happens to Black and brown people from simple traffic stops.”

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