Officer faces action over Tennessee’s death after community outrage
The Tennessee Police Department said officers in Memphis are facing disciplinary action after the death of the 29-year-old black driver after a traffic stop, sparking outrage in the community.
The victim’s relatives accused Dr. Nichols, the police beat Nichols and gave him a heart attack.
Authorities said Nichols experienced a medical emergency after fleeing from officers. Officials said the cause of death has not yet been determined.
Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said Sunday that the department has been serving officers involved in connection with policy violations. Davis said the administrative process is expected to be completed later this week.
“After reviewing various sources of information regarding this incident, I have found it necessary to take immediate and specific action,” Davis said in a statement.
The statement did not indicate the number of officers involved.
“There is no doubt that we take departmental abuses very seriously, and while we must complete the investigative process, our highest priority is ensuring swift justice,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in the statement.
“We want citizens to know that we are prepared to take immediate and appropriate action based on what the findings determine.”
Police said Nichols, of Memphis, was pulled over along the street for reckless driving on January 7. There was a confrontation when officers approached the driver and the suspect ran before officers confronted him again and arrested him.
Nichols then complained of shortness of breath and was taken to hospital by ambulance in critical condition.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Nichols died on January 10. The office is conducting a use-of-force investigation at the request of Shelby District Attorney Steve Mulroy.
Relatives told news outlets that the officers who stopped Nichols were in an unmarked car and that he suffered cardiac arrest and kidney failure because of the officers’ beatings. Memphis police referred questions to the state office, which said it was still investigating.
In a statement Monday on Twitter, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he is representing the Nichols family. Crump demanded that Memphis police release the body camera and surveillance footage from the traffic station.
“This kind of death in custody undermines community trust if agencies are not transparent quickly,” Crump said.
An email left with Memphis police asking about the release of the footage was not returned.