The timeline of Tyre Nichols' death, from being stopped by Memphis cops to officers being charged with his murder

  • Tyre Nichols died after five Memphis police officers brutally beat him, city officials have said.

  • The five police officers involved in the beating have been charged with second-degree murder.

  • Here is a timeline of events as they unfolded.

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died three days after Memphis police officers stopped him at a traffic stop and beat him.

The Memphis Police Department released video footage of the arrest January 27, showing a violent encounter between officers and Nichols on the evening of January 7.

Five officers were charged with murder over Nichols' death and have been released from jail on bond. Two additional officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Here's a timeline of the events and what we know so far:

January 7, about 8:30 p.m.: Nichols is stopped, arrested, and beaten

Memphis police officers stopped Nichols on suspicion of "reckless driving" near the intersection of Raines Road and Ross Road, according to the department.

A confrontation occurred as officers approached Nichols' vehicle and Nichols ran away, the police said.

Video footage of the incident showed Nichols being pulled out of his vehicle and thrown on the ground. One officer can be heard saying, "I'm going to tase your ass." After a struggle, Nichols can be seen running away.

In the second confrontation, body-camera footage showed how officers beat Nichols. One officer took Nichols to the ground while another kneed him in the torso. Another officer clubbed Nichols.

During the violent encounter, Nichols can be heard crying "mom" several times. In total, five officers surrounded and beat Nichols.

Officers soon restrained Nichols as they waited for paramedics to arrive.

Nichols said he was experiencing shortness of breath, and an ambulance was called, with Nichols brought to a hospital in critical condition, according to the police statement.

January 10: Nichols dies

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that Nichols had "succumbed to his injuries." It gave no official cause of death.

yre Nichols, who died in a hospital on Jan. 10, three days after sustaining injuries during his arrest by Memphis police officers, is seen in this undated picture obtained from social media.
Tyre Nichols in an undated picture obtained from social media. Nichols died in a hospital on January 10, three days after sustaining injuries during his arrest by Memphis police officers.Facebook/Deandre Nichols/via REUTERS

January 15: Police announce first investigations

The Memphis Police Department announced it was starting its own administrative investigation and said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office were also starting an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police officers.

January 18: DOJ and FBI announce another investigation

Kevin G. Ritz, the US attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that the US attorney's office, working with the FBI and the Department of Justice, had opened a civil-rights investigation.

January 20: Memphis Police Department says 5 officers fired

The Memphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr.
The Memphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr.

The Memphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin III, and Desmond Mills Jr. are facing murder charges.Memphis Police Department

The Memphis police said in a statement that five officers were fired and that its investigation found the five men "violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid."

It named the officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith.

January 23: Attorneys say the beating lasted three minutes, with bodycam footage showing Nichols being used as a 'human piñata'

After Nichols' family and their lawyers viewed the bodycam footage from his arrest, the attorney Antonio Romanucci said officers beat Nichols for three minutes.

Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, said "no father, mother should have to witness what I saw today."

Wells added that the footage showed Nichols repeatedly calling out for his mother, according to The Washington Post.

Romanucci also said Nichols was "defenseless the entire time."

"He was a human piñata for those police officers," he said. "It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes."

Chief Cerelyn Davis of the Memphis Police Department said the footage would be made public at an "appropriate time," when it wouldn't interfere with investigations.

January 24: Family autopsy shows he suffered 'extensive bleeding'

The Nichols family's attorneys Ben Crump and Romanucci told Insider their legal team had conducted an independent autopsy of Nichols' body.

"We can state that preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023," they said.

RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, cries as she is comforted by Tyre's stepfather Rodney Wells, at a news conference with civil rights Attorney Ben Crump in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.
Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, being comforted by Nichols' stepfather, Rodney Wells.Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

January 25: Police chief calls the incident 'heinous, reckless, and inhumane'

Davis, the Memphis police chief, condemned the incident while pledging that her department would cooperate with all investigations.

She said she expected the release of the bodycam footage to spark outrage and protests.

"This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves," she said in a statement released late Wednesday.

"I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels, I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights, as our police offers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video."

January 26: Fired Memphis police officers charged with murder

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced the five officers would be charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping in possession of a deadly weapon, official misconduct, and official oppression.

All five were booked into jail and then quickly released after posting bond, according to Fox13Memphis.

January 26: Biden says Nichols' death shows the justice system needs work

President Joe Biden posted a message on Twitter saying he and the first lady, Jill Biden, "extend our hearts to the family of Tyre Nichols — they deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation."

"Tyre's death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system lives up to the promise of fairness and dignity for all," Biden said.

January 27: Police say they can't substantiate the reckless-driving claim

Davis, the police chief, told CNN her department hadn't been able to substantiate allegations from the five officers that Nichols was driving recklessly, which was the purported cause of the traffic stop.

Davis said investigators had pored over cameras at the scene of the traffic stop, as well as officers' body-worn cameras, and hadn't found anything proving reckless driving.

"We've taken a pretty extensive look to determine what the probable cause was, and we have not been able to substantiate that," Davis said. "It doesn't mean that something didn't happen, but there's no proof."

January 27: US cities brace for protests ahead of footage release

Memphis and other major cities across the US braced for protests ahead of the scheduled release of the footage on Friday evening.

Authorities in New York City; Washington, DC; San Francisco; and Atlanta all confirmed they had been anticipating protests and preparing their police departments.

At a press conference Friday, members of Nichols' family urged protesters to remain peaceful. Nichols' stepfather, Rodney Wells, told reporters he was "very satisfied" with the swift consequences for the five officers, which included second-degree-murder charges.

"More importantly, we want peace, we do not want an uproar," he said.

January 27: Memphis officials announce an investigation into the unit the 5 officers were serving on

Davis announced a review of the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit, which was launched in late 2021. All five officers charged over Nichols' beating were assigned to the unit.

The SCORPION Unit is a specialized force consisting of roughly 50 officers patrolling known hot spots for crime, often focusing on seizing weapons and investigating gangs. In its first three months, the unit made more than 300 arrests and seized 95 weapons, according to the local NBC affiliate WMC.

Attorneys representing Nichols' family criticized the SCORPION Unit on Friday, calling for its dissolution. Crump said he had since learned of several excessive-force allegations against SCORPION officers, including a man who said one of the officers threatened him at gunpoint just days before Nichols' beating.

"We are asking chief Davis to disband the SCORPION Unit, effective immediately," Romanucci said Friday. "The intent of the SCORPION Unit has now been corrupted. It cannot be brought back to center with any sense of morality and dignity."

January 27: Memphis officials release footage of Nichols' beating, and protests began

At 6 p.m., the city released the body-camera videos of Nichols' beating.

Nichols at times could be heard calling out for his mother as police officers swore at him. They continually punched and kicked him until he was unresponsive.

The violent footage, from police body cameras and stationary cameras, was released on the department's Vimeo page and was met with immediate civil unrest in Memphis and other cities.

In Memphis, the protest organizers had spoken with the Nichols' family and met their demands for a peaceful night in the city.

Kicking off at 6 p.m., without pausing to watch the videos, the group of dozens marched through the city, chanting and calling for reform.

They blocked traffic on I-55 for several hours before returning to Martyrs Park to end the evening at about 9:30 p.m.

January 28: Memphis police announce deactivation of SCORPION Unit

The Memphis Police Department released a statement announcing a permanent end to the SCORPION Unit, noting that all officers assigned to the unit "agree unreservedly" with the decision.

"It is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit," the Memphis Police Department said in a statement. "While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted."

Protesters in Memphis cheered at the news Saturday afternoon and called for other specialized units within the department to be deactivated as well.

January 30: Memphis Police Department announces that 2 more police officers were relieved of duty

The Memphis Police Department announced that two additional officers had been placed under investigation on January 8.

Officer Preston Hemphill, who was involved in Nichols' arrest, was "relieved of duty," police said. A spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department told Insider he was placed on paid administrative leave "pending the outcome of the investigation."

A seventh officer, whose identity remains unknown to Insider, was also placed on leave.

Correction: January 30, 2023 — A photo caption in an earlier version of this story misspelled the name of one of the Memphis police officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols. The officer is Tadarrius Bean, not Tadarrius Dean.

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