On the eve of his funeral, the family of a motorist who was killed after being beaten by police in Memphis, Tennessee, demanded answers. Tyre Nichols’ stepfather and brother vowed to keep fighting for justice at a church in the city. In total, five ex-cops face murder charges. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist, has called what happened to Tyre “a disgrace to this country.” There is a mountain of complaints against the officers in their personnel files.
On Tuesday, US Vice President Kamala Harris called Mr. Nichols’ grieving mother and offered condolences. On Wednesday, she plans to attend the funeral.
On Tuesday night, Mr. Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, urged the public to “keep fighting for justice for my son” in the same church where civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech and where the funeral will be held on Wednesday. Mr. Sharpton expressed his gratitude to Mr. Nichols’ family and local activists before calling Mr. Nichols’ death a national disgrace.
He claimed that the entire world had witnessed an unarmed man being brutally killed by police on camera. He then remarked, “That could have been any one of us.” Jamal Dupree, Mr. Nichols’s brother, also addressed the gathering of mourners, saying, “My little brother didn’t deserve none of this at all.”
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith, all former officers in Memphis, have been charged with second-degree murder and other counts in connection with Mr. Nichols’ death. The other four, plus Mr. Nichols, are all people of African descent.
A local affiliate of the BBC’s US partner CBS News reported that some of the officers’ personnel files revealed a number of disciplinary issues. In February 2021, Mr. Haley was disciplined in writing after being accused of using excessive force and dislocating a woman’s shoulder during an arrest.
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Additionally, Mr. Mills was accused of using excessive force during a traffic stop in March 2019 that ended in a collision, but that complaint was dismissed. In March of 2019, a handgun was discovered on the floor of a squad car, and Mr. Martin was suspended without pay for three days after being accused of not properly searching two suspects.
In January of 2021, Mr. Smith was involved in a car crash that left him and another person injured. He was suspended for two days without pay for failing to maintain proper control. Mr. Bean’s file revealed no previous incidents.