Tyre Nichols: A timeline of the investigation into his death

Five officers have been charged in his death.

September 12, 2023, 2:40 PM

The investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, continues.

Nichols died several days after a violent traffic stop captured in body camera footage, which shows officers striking Nichols repeatedly. Five officers have been charged so far in connection with his death.

His death has prompted protests and unrest across the country.

Here is a timeline of the events leading up to and surrounding his death:

Jan. 7: Tyre Nichols pulled over

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was pulled over by police for alleged reckless driving.

According to Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, Tyre was 2 minutes away from his home when he was pulled over.

Officials said that Memphis officers approached Nichols, who ran away. Officers say they then pursued Nichols after he ran and apprehended him, police said.

Attorneys for Nichols' family said the body camera footage of the incident shows that Nichols did not originally run when being approached by officers. They say Nichols told police that "he was just trying to get home" from FedEx, where he worked, and yelled for his mother three times toward the end of the video.

Body camera footage shows the initial altercation an officer warns Nichols, "I'm going to beat your a--" and "I'm going to tase your a--," as various officers hold him on the ground and yell at him. Nichols' tone remains calm, at one point telling the cops, "You guys are really doing a lot right now." He manages to break free from the officers as they appear to try to deploy a stun gun on him and he runs away.

Several officers can later be seen in body camera footage grouped with Nichols, standing over him as he's on the ground. As two officers hold him down, a third kicks him. A fourth officer comes over with a baton and the officers pick Nichols up from the ground and hold him up while officers appear to strike him in the face and torso.

As Nichols falls to his knees, several officers kneel and lean over him, while another appears to stand a few feet away, watching. Additional officers run into the frame. At least one officer kicks Nichols while he is on the ground. About three minutes from the first kick, they begin to step away. They eventually drag him into the street and lean him up against a car as he appears to have his hands behind his back.

Nichols remains slumped next to the car for roughly 20 minutes, it appears, before officers' first attempt to render him aid. Several minutes later, EMTs appear to lean over Nichols before an ambulance appears.

The footage shows officers beating Nichols and using spraying pepper spray as he begins yelling for his mother, who lived nearby. He can be heard screaming "mom" at least three times. The officers yell multiple times at Nichols to "give me your hands." The officer with the baton can be heard saying, "I'ma baton the f--- out of you" then appears to strike him on the back three times. Officers pull Nichols to a stand, then appear to punch and slap him.

After the incident, Nichols "complained of having a shortness of breath" and was transported by ambulance to Memphis' St. Francis Hospital in critical condition, according to police.

Due to Nichols' condition, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office was contacted and TBI special agents were subsequently requested to conduct a use-of-force investigation, according to the TBI.

The Memphis Police Department said at the time that the "officers involved will be routinely relieved of duty pending the outcome of" the TBI's investigation.

Jan. 10: Tyre Nichols' death

Nichols died three days after being detained by Memphis police.

Jan. 18: Federal investigations begin

Kevin G. Ritz, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that the FBI and DOJ are investigating the incident.

"State authorities have publicly announced that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating," Ritz said in a statement. "In addition, the United States Attorney's Office, in coordination with the FBI Memphis Field Office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, has opened a civil rights investigation."

Jan. 20: The firing of Memphis police officers

The Memphis Police Department announced that it fired five police officers following an investigation into Nichols' death.

The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith. They are all Black men.

"After a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we have determined that five MPD officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene and duty to render aid," the department said in a statement.

Jan. 23: Family describes body camera footage

The video footage of Nichols' interaction with five Memphis police officers was viewed by Nichols' family and attorneys.

They described the video as "appalling," "deplorable," "heinous," "violent" and "troublesome on every level," according to Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family.

"What he was in that [video] was defenseless the entire time," said Antonio Romanucci, another attorney for the family. "He was a human pi?ata for those police officers. It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for 3 minutes." Romanucci also mentioned that Nichols, who died January 10, was kicked during the footage.

The family said they saw the police kick, pepper spray and use a stun gun on their son all while Nichols repeatedly asked, "What did I do?"

This same week, Memphis Fire Department officials announced that two employees involved in the initial patient care of Nichols were relieved of duty and are being investigated for their role in the incident, according to an official statement given to ABC Affiliate WATN.

Jan. 26: Independent autopsy released, officers charged

A grand jury indicted five officers -- Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith -- involved in the Nichols incident. They have each been charged with murder and are in custody. They have been charged with "second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravating kidnapping, resulting in bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping involving the possession of a weapon official misconduct through unauthorized exercise of power, official misconduct through failure to act when there is a duty imposed by law, and official oppression," according to the Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

All five officers later plead not guilty on Feb. 17.

An independent autopsy, completed by a forensic pathologist hired by the family's attorneys, found that Nichols suffered from "extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating," according to the family.

"His observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7," the family of Tyre Nichols and their attorneys said in a statement. "Further details and findings from this independent report will be disclosed at another time."

Memphis Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis called the officers' actions "heinous, reckless and inhumane," adding that "when the [body camera footage] is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves."

Chief Davis said that she expects protests following the video's release, but warns that even though she anticipates outrage, that "none of this is a calling card for inciting violence."

Jan. 27: Body camera footage released, Shelby County deputies relieved from duty

Memphis officials released the footage of Nichols' confrontation with police.

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Four videos were shared to Vimeo by the city of Memphis.

The city shared footage from three bodyworn cameras, as well as a pole camera, amounting to about 67 minutes total.

The videos included the warning: "Footage contains graphic content and language. Some may find offense. Viewer discretion is advised."

One clip is city surveillance video, which shows Nichols being hit, kicked and punched by several of the officers, including the use of a baton.

Another clip is body camera video, which shows the officers beating Nichols.

Another clip highlights audio in which Nichols can be heard yelling out "mom" several times. The clip later captures Nichols slumped on the ground next to a vehicle.

"Like so many, I was outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols' death. It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day," President Joe Biden said in response to the footage.

The footage prompted protests across the country.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. also launched an internal investigation into two deputies who appeared on the scene and have relieved them of duty pending the investigation's findings.

Jan. 30: Officials announce 2 more officers relieved of duty, 3 Memphis FD members fired

Memphis police officer Preston Hemphill, an officer involved in the Tyre Nichols traffic stop, and one unidentified officer were relieved of duty during an ongoing investigation, according to Memphis police.

Hemphill, who is white, and the other officer were relieved of their duties on Jan. 8, according to the Memphis PD. Hemphill was later fired on Feb. 3

Hemphill allegedly deployed his Taser during the confrontation. In his own body camera video, Hemphill is seen chasing Nichols down the road but then turns back to the scene of the initial traffic stop.

Hemphill was heard on his body camera video saying twice, "I hope they stomp his a--."

The Memphis Fire Department also announced that three members who were deployed in an ambulance to the scene after the beating have been fired.

EMTs Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge, who initially assessed Nichols at the scene, were fired for failing "to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols," according to the fire department. MFD Lt. Michelle Whitaker, who was inside the first ambulance at the scene, was also fired.

Feb. 3: Memphis PD fires white officer who encountered Nichols

The Memphis Police Department announced that it fired Hemphill for violating multiple police guidelines during his confrontation with Nichols.

This included personal conduct, truthfulness, and a violation for not using the TASER in compliance with regulations, police said.

Feb. 7: Seven additional Memphis police officers could face discipline, city's chief legal officer says

Seven additional Memphis police officers could face discipline in connection with the incident, the city's chief legal officer, Jennifer Sink, told ABC News Tuesday.

Those additional officers will be receiving a "statement of charges," which notifies an officer about a policy violation prior to an administrative hearing and decision about discipline, officials said.

"The administrative investigation is still ongoing, and so this information is subject to change," Sink said in a statement. "The administrative investigation is solely to determine if city policies were violated and what disciplinary action should be taken."

Feb. 7: Former Memphis officer texted photo of beaten Nichols, state records show

One of the former Memphis officers charged in connection with Tyre Nichols' death took a photo of Nichols after he was handcuffed and texted it to multiple people, according to newly obtained state records.

Demetrius Haley took two pictures on his personal cell phone of the "obviously injured" Nichols after he had been handcuffed, according to a Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission document obtained by ABC News. He admitted to sharing a photo in a text message with five people -- a civilian employee, two Memphis police officers and a "female acquaintance" -- while an administrative investigation uncovered that a sixth person also received the same photo, according to the document.

The actions violated a Memphis Police regulation regarding confidential information, which states that officers cannot share information relating to official police matters "without prior approval or subpoena, except to authorized persons," according to the document.

The document was part of the process to decertify Haley and the four other former officers charged with second-degree murder.

March 7: 7th Memphis PD officer terminated

Jennifer Sink, Memphis's chief legal officer, told city councilmembers that a seventh officer who was involved in the encounter with Nichols was terminated.

The officer's identity was not immediately revealed.

Sink said that 13 Memphis police officers were administratively charged in the incident. Aside from the terminated officers, three others were suspended and another officer who was going to be fired resigned instead, according to Sink.

Two of the officers who were administratively charged had their charges dropped, Sink said.

Sept. 12: 5 former officers indicted on federal charges

Bean, Haley, Smith, Martin and Mills were indicted on charges relating to the deprivation of rights under color of law, including excessive force and failure to intervene as well as deliberate indifference, and conspiracy to witness-tamper, according to court records.

The five defendants allegedly didn't relay information about their assault to the Memphis PD dispatcher, their supervisor or the EMTs and paramedics who were coming to the scene, the indictment said.

They also allegedly used their body-worn cameras to limit the capture of evidence, according to the indictment. Martin allegedly moved his body camera to a location where their assault of Nichols wouldn't be captured and Haley and Smith only activated their cameras after the group attacked Nichols, the indictment alleged.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso and Alexander Malin contributed to this report.

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