Tyre Nichols died of blunt force injuries to the head from his beating, autopsy shows
Updated May 4, 2023 at 6:49 PM ET
Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers following a traffic stop, died from blunt force trauma to the head, an official autopsy report said.
Investigators ruled Nichols' manner of death as a homicide, according to the report released Thursday by the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center.
The autopsy documents obtained by NPR show Nichols sustained blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso and extremities; multiple cortical contusions; and several instances of hemorrhages throughout his body. In addition, it also lists he sustained multiple contusions, abrasions, and bruising to his body.
The report also said he suffered brain hemorrhages and liver failure.
The 29-year-old's family and their attorneys were briefed on his autopsy results Wednesday, nearly four months after his death.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys representing Nichols' family, say the medical examiner's official autopsy report is "highly consistent" with their independent autopsy conducted in January.
The DA's office did not respond to NPR's immediate request for comment on the results.
"The utter brutality of the deadly beating that Tyre suffered is once again highlighted in these official autopsy results," Crump and Romanucci said in a statement sent to NPR on Thursday. "... No part of this young man was spared as he was tortured to death by these officers."
Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after he was stopped by Memphis police for what they called reckless driving. According to initial police reports, officers said Nichols fled the scene but eventually was taken into custody after two "confrontations" with officers.
Nichols had complained of shortness of breath following his arrest and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Five former Memphis police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were terminated by the department at the end of January. Each of the five terminated officers belonged to a team known as the SCORPION unit, which was deactivated soon after Nichols' death.
The five former officers each face several charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. All five officers have pleaded not guilty.
Like Nichols, all of the dismissed officers facing charges are Black.
The news of Nichols' autopsy results comes in the wake of Nichols' family filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Memphis, its police department and the individual officers involved in his death.
The 139-page lawsuit obtained by NPR describes the fatal beating as a "foreseeable product of the unconstitutional policies, practices, customs and deliberate indifference of the City of Memphis" and its police chief, Cerelyn "C.J." Davis.
The suit does not mention a specific dollar amount being sought by the Nichols family. However, Crump said during a news conference last month that the family is seeking $550 million in damages.
The City of Memphis declined to comment to NPR on the lawsuit when asked last month.
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