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Tyre Nichols Memphis Police Department to be investigated

The US government has launched an investigation into the Memphis Police Department following the death of Tyre Nichols. Mr Nichols, a 29-year-old black man, died in January three days after being pulled over and beaten by police.

The Department of Justice said it would examine “certain policies and practices of the Memphis Police Department”. The review was requested by Memphis’ police chief in the wake of Mr Nichols’ death.

It will investigate the department’s training, data and processes related to use of force, de-escalation and special police units, like the one involved in stopping Mr Nichols before his death.

“In the wake of Tyre Nichols’s tragic death, the Justice Department has heard from police chiefs across the country who are assessing the use of specialised units and, where used, appropriate management, oversight, and accountability for such units,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said.

Mr Nichols’ death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality in the US. The Justice Department has already launched a civil rights investigation.

The agency said it would share its findings and issue recommendations after the review is complete.
Separately, the Memphis Police Department will later release 20 more hours of video footage and audio of the violent 7 January traffic stop that proceeded Mr Nichols’ death.

Another review focused exclusively on the role of special police units within law enforcement will also be launched. Special police units – which are common across the country and often used to crack down on street crime – have been criticised since Mr Nichols’ death.

Five black members of Memphis’s Scorpion Unit – which stood for “Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods” – face second-degree murder and other charges for the killing of Mr Nichols.

The 50-person unit, which had been accused on several other occasions of misconduct, has since been disbanded. Previous body-camera footage of the Scorpion members’ encounter with Mr Nichols released in January showed police officers kicking, punching and firing a Taser at Mr Nichols for several minutes as he cried out for his mother.

Police initially said Mr Nichols, a father-of-one who had been returning home, was stopped on suspicion of reckless driving, a claim that has not been substantiated, according to Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis.

Seven police officers have so far been fired, while at least 13 officers in total are facing some form of discipline over the incident, according to Memphis chief legal officer Jennifer Sink.

Three emergency medical workers have also been fired for not providing Mr Nichols with adequate care.

The city plans to share information on the charges and disciplinary action city officials are facing as a result of the investigation along with the 20 hours of footage, Ms Sink said this week.

Source: BBC

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