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Family of Tyre Nichols files federal lawsuit against Memphis

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Civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks during a “Stop The Black Attack” rally against ongoing state legislation at the Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Octavio Jones/File Photo

Lawyers for Tyre Nichols’ family filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court seeking damages from those responsible for the beating death of the 29-year-old Black man at the hands of Memphis police.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a tweet that the lawsuit would seek to hold the Tennessee city, the Memphis Police Department and individual officers accountable for Nichols’ death in January.

Crump has negotiated multimillion-dollar settlements in other high-profile civil rights cases in recent years, including $27 million from the city of Minneapolis for the police killing of George Floyd and $12 million from the city of Louisville for the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Nichols’ death on Jan. 10 came three days after his beating by police during a traffic stop and triggered a nationwide outcry and protests, leading to the arrest and indictment for second-degree murder of five police officers.

The officers, all Black, pleaded not guilty and are next scheduled for a court appearance on May 1.

Memphis officials and Shelby County prosecutors acted swiftly in meting out discipline after police video showed officers punched Nichols with his hands held behind his back, kicked him in the head and beat him with a baton after they said he swerved in and out of traffic.

Police and fire department responders left a mortally wounded Nichols on the ground, his hands cuffed behind his back, and intermittently propped him against a patrol car. It took several minutes before medical care was provided, the police video showed.

Besides the five criminally charged, two additional police officers were fired, three more were suspended and two had internal disciplinary charges dropped. Yet another officer retired while being recommended for termination.

Three fire department employees were also fired and a fourth was suspended.

Besides seeking damages for wrongful death, Crump’s legal team is also suing Memphis police for intentional infliction of emotional distress for lying to his mother.

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