January 30, 2023

Attorneys representing the family of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died after an encounter with police in Memphis, Tennessee, said Tuesday that an independent autopsy they commissioned found that Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.” The full findings of the report were not made public.

Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement that the autopsy was performed by “a highly regarded, nationally renowned forensic pathologist.”

“Further details and findings from this independent report will be disclosed at another time,” the statement said.

Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was involved in a traffic stop with members of the Memphis Police Department. One day after the stop, police said that there had been a “confrontation” when officers approached Nichols’ vehicle. He then fled the scene before another “confrontation,” police said.

After Nichols’ family and their attorneys viewed bodycam footage of the incident, they compared it to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police. That footage is not expected to be made public until at least next week.

The family’s attorneys said Tuesday that the autopsy’s preliminary findings determined that Nichols’ observed injuries were “consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023.”

Nichols’ mother, RowVaugn Wells, told “CBS Mornings” on Tuesday that when she watched the video, “All I heard my son say was, ‘What did I do?’ I just lost it from there.”

Tyre Nichols Family Holds Press Conference
RowVaugn Wells, second from left, becomes emotional during a press conference at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME Church after she viewed footage of the violent police interaction that led to the death of her son Tyre Nichols Memphis, TN on January 23, 2023. She is flanked by attorney Antonio Romanucci, from left, husband Rodney Wells, and attorney Ben Crump.

The Washington Post via Getty Images


Wells said she was unable to bring herself to watch the video in full, which she said showed Nichols being tased, beaten and pepper-sprayed. 

“I saw police brutality at its finest,” Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, told “CBS Mornings.” “I saw a helpless, young Black man being beat by several officers.”

At a press conference Monday, Romanucci said the bodycam footage showed an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” of Nichols.

Memphis Police Force Investigation
RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, calls out his name 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.

Gerald Herbert / AP


While no official cause of death has been released, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported that on Jan. 10,  Nichols “succumbed to his injuries,” without describing the nature of those injuries. Police have said Nichols was hospitalized after complaining of “shortness of breath.” The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation of the incident. 

On Friday, the five officers involved in the traffic stop were fired following an “internal investigation,” which determined that they had “violated multiple department policies, including excessive force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid,” said Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis in a statement.

A decision on possible charges against the officers is expected next week.

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