Federal authorities announced Wednesday that they are launching a civil rights investigation into the actions of Memphis police after a 29-year-old black man died three days after traffic stop officers.
Tyree Nichols was arrested Jan. 7 after officers pulled him over for reckless driving, Memphis police said. When officers approached him, a confrontation ensued, and Nichols then fled the scene, police said. Police also mentioned another “standoff” between Nichols and officers before he was eventually caught and arrested.
“The suspect then complained of shortness of breath, at which time 911 was called” and Nichols was taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said. He “died of his injuries” on Jan. 10, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said last week, without specifying the nature of those injuries.
Nichols’ death sparked protests over the weekend.
Kevin G. Ritz, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced Wednesday that a federal civil rights investigation has been opened into the incident.
“Tyre Nichols was tragically killed last week just days after he was involved in an incident where officers with the Memphis Police Department used force during his arrest,” Ritz said in a statement. “State authorities have publicly announced that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating. In addition, the United States Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the FBI’s Memphis Field Office and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, has launched a civil rights investigation. “
Meanwhile, the Memphis Police Department is conducting its own internal administrative investigation into potential policy violations by the officers who arrested Nichols and expects that process to be completed by the end of this week, the department said in a statement. news release Sunday.
“After reviewing various sources of information regarding this incident, I have determined that immediate and appropriate action is necessary,” Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said in a statement. “Today, the department is notifying those involved of taking administrative action.”