Tyre Nichols family filing civil lawsuit in Memphis to get ‘truth’ on traffic stop

Attorney Ben Crump speaks alongside RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols, during a press conference after an indictment hearing for five former Memphis police officers charged in the death of Nichols at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) Brandon Dill/AP

Tyre Nichols family filing civil lawsuit in Memphis to get ‘truth’ on traffic stop

Emily Jacobs

March 19, 04:46 AM March 19, 04:47 AM

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The family of Tyre Nichols will bring a civil lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department over his death in an effort to get answers about why that fatal traffic stop took place.

RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’s mother, appeared with attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation on Saturday to discuss updates in the case. The two voiced their concern about the speed of the investigation and the lack of additional indictments. They also expressed dismay about reports that a lieutenant identified as the on-scene supervisor on the night of Nichols’s arrest was permitted to retire ahead of a disciplinary hearing to fire him.


“Well, it’s actually disturbing. I’m not understanding how they’re allowing someone to retire when they’re involved in an investigation. This was news to me this morning, but I’m just not understanding because he was actually one of the gentlemen that came to my home that informed me that my son was arrested. So for him to be able to retire before all of this, that doesn’t make sense to me.”

“It’s getting to the point now where I’m starting to get angry,” Wells said of the evolution of her initial anguish. “Because a lot of new developments are happening, and things are not getting done in a timely manner that I feel they should be.”

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It was at this point that Crump announced the civil suit, telling Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts the MSNBC program, “We are going to be bringing a civil action because the truth of why they really stopped Tyre Nichols is going to come out.”

There is greater discovery in civil matters than with criminal cases, which provides the family a pathway to getting some answers on what caused officers to violently attack Nichols.

Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died on Jan. 10 as a direct result of injuries caused by Memphis Police officers during what they claimed to be a traffic stop for reckless driving. Video of the incident, taken on Jan. 7, showed officers aggressively yanking Nichols from his car and wrestling him to the ground without making any efforts to interact peacefully. He could be heard saying “I didn’t do anything,” before being pepper sprayed and tased as officers shouted profanities.

A traumatized Nichols then ran away, sparking a police chase. Once caught mere blocks from his home, surveillance footage shows the officers savagely beating the FedEx worker and aspiring photographer, who calls out for his mother while taking repeated kicks to the head.

Five of the Memphis Police officers involved in the attack have been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of official misconduct, one count of official oppression, aggravated assault-act in concert, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping. Nichols’ family has advocated for charges for others involved in the incident, including officers and sheriff’s deputies who allegedly neglected to deescalate the situation and paramedics who failed to provide Nichols with aid for over 20 minutes.

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