Man's death after arrest draws protest near police station

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — People protested outside a Memphis police station over a man’s death after a confrontation with police officers during a traffic stop.

Family, friends and supporters of Tyre D. Nichols released balloons Saturday to honor the life of the 29-year-old Memphis man and protested outside a police station near the site of the Jan. 7 traffic stop.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is conducting a use-of-force investigation at the request of Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy, bureau officials said last week. Nichols “succumbed to his injuries” on Tuesday, the agency said without describing the nature of his injuries.

Nichols, who was Black, was arrested after officers stopped him for reckless driving, police said. There was a confrontation as officers approached the driver and the suspect ran before he was confronted again by pursuing officers who arrested him, authorities said.

“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called” and Nichols was taken to a hospital in critical condition, police said.

Due to his condition, police contacted Mulroy’s office and he requested the state bureau's investigation, authorities said.

Rodney Wells told WREG-TV on Saturday that his stepson ended up suffering a cardiac arrest and kidney failure because of a beating by officers.

“When we got to the hospital, it was devastating,” Wells said. “All of that still should not occur because of a traffic stop. You shouldn’t be on a dialysis machine looking like this because of a traffic stop. That’s inhumane.”

Protesters said authorities should release body camera footage of the arrest.

“The least they can do is be transparent with the mother, father and the family and show that video to them about what happened to their son,” community activist Kareem Ali told WMC-TV.

Nichols’ older sister, Keyana Dixon, said during the balloon release that the officers who pulled Nichols over were in an unmarked vehicle, according to The Commercial Appeal.

“If he did run, it was because he was scared,” Dixon said. “A traffic stop is supposed to be a traffic stop for anybody, and they were in an unmarked vehicle, so I already knew what he thought."

The newspaper said it couldn't independently confirm the details described by family. The Memphis Police Department referred questions to the state bureau, which said it was still investigating.