Autopsy Shows Tyre Nichols Died of Head Injuries From Police Beating

An autopsy report released on Thursday confirmed that Tyre Nichols died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head after a group of Memphis police officers brutally kicked and bludgeoned him.

Shelby County medical examiners formally declared his death on Jan. 10 a homicide, describing severe injuries to Mr. Nichols’s head and neck as well as bruises and cuts all over his body.

The report also found that on the day of the beating, Jan. 7, Mr. Nichols had a blood alcohol concentration of .049 percent — well below the legal limit for driving in Tennessee — despite insinuations from the police that he had been pulled over for driving while intoxicated.

The formal assessment of what killed Mr. Nichols, about four months after a routine traffic stop turned violent, comes as prosecutors are continuing to investigate the beating. The brutality of the attack captured on body camera and surveillance footage, fueled a national outcry and drew scathing criticism over how frequently law enforcement in Memphis used excessive force and intimidation tactics.

Ben Crump and Antonio M. Romanucci, two lawyers representing the Nichols family, released a statement on Wednesday after the family was briefed on the autopsy report and said its findings were “highly consistent with our own reporting back in January of this year.” (Findings from an independent autopsy in January commissioned by the family determined that Mr. Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”)

“The official autopsy report further propels our commitment to seeking justice for this senseless tragedy,” the lawyers said. The family has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department.

Five former Memphis officers, all Black men, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and an array of other charges in connection with the death of Mr. Nichols, a 29-year-old Black FedEx worker and amateur photographer.

Steve Mulroy, the Shelby County district attorney, said on Tuesday that a sixth former officer, Preston Hemphill, who is white and was fired after he shot a Taser at Mr. Nichols, would not be criminally charged and was cooperating with the investigation.

The supervisor on scene, Dewayne Smith, abruptly retired a day before a scheduled disciplinary hearing, where police officials said they would have recommended he be fired. Body-camera video on the night of Jan. 7 captured Mr. Smith, then a police lieutenant, suggesting that Mr. Nichols was intoxicated and telling Mr. Nichols’s family that he was in custody for driving under the influence.

Mr. Nichols’s family had strenuously denied that charge.

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