U.S. Attorney’s Office gives update on Tyre Nichols civil rights investigation

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:50 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for West Tennessee held a Wednesday morning press conference at the Odell Horton Federal Building in Downtown Memphis, giving an update on their ongoing criminal civil rights investigation surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz, with his First Assistant U.S. Attorney Reagan Fondren and Doug DePodesta from FBI Memphis standing on either side of him, said he spoke with Nichols’ family earlier this week.

“What I said was that the Department of Justice (DOJ) cares deeply about potential violations of constitutional rights here in Memphis,” Ritz said.

What was new Wednesday is the USAO confirmed this is in fact a criminal civil rights investigation, meaning criminal charges from the Federal government could be in store for all those involved in Nichols’ death.

The criminal aspect was not in the USAO’s original announcement last week.

Nichols was pulled over by Memphis police in the Hickory Hill area on January 7 for what was originally reported as reckless driving.

What followed was a violent apprehension that resulted in Nichols being admitted to St. Francis Hospital, where he died three days later.

Five officers were fired following an internal investigation for their involvement, as well as two EMTs with Memphis Fire being relieved of duty pending the results of their own internal investigation.

“Our investigation may take some time,” Ritz said. “These things often do, but we will be diligent. We will make decisions based on facts and the law.”

Despite how long this particular investigation will take, the release of the footage from the January 7 traffic stop will likely not be on the same timeline as USAO, as well as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) probe.

In a virtual discussion with Memphis NAACP and the Shelby County Voter Alliance last week, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said the release of the video could come much sooner.

“I am committed to releasing the video as soon as possible, quite possibly before the TBI investigation has completed, but I need to make sure that we do it in a way that is legal,” Mulroy said.

When the video is eventually released, Attorney Ritz echoes the same statement as other Memphis leaders and Nichols’ family.

“We want people to express their right to be heard, but we want them to do so in a peaceful and nonviolent way,” Ritz said.

Details of Nichols’s funeral were confirmed late Wednesday afternoon.

The funeral will be held next Wednesday morning at Mississippi Boulevard Church.

Reverend Al Sharpton is set to give the eulogy.

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