Tyre Nichols death spurs Justice Department review of Memphis police

A grid of mugshots of police officers involved in the beating of Tyre Nichols.
Clockwise from top left: Former Memphis, Tenn., police officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Desmond Mills Jr., who were involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols,
(Memphis Police Department / Associated Press)

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it will review the Memphis police department policies on use of force, de-escalation policies and specialized units in response to the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols during an arrest.

The review was requested by the city’s mayor and police chief, the department said. In a separate effort, it will examine the use of specialized units around the country and produce a guide for police chiefs and mayors on their use, according to the announcement.

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


The Justice Department has previously opened a civil rights investigation into Nichols’ death.

The city on Wednesday also plans to release about 20 hours of video and audio recordings related to the arrest of the 29-year-old motorist who died Jan. 10, three days after the violent encounter. It will add to the already-public footage from police body cameras and a surveillance camera that has given the world a detailed look at the police pummeling Nichols.

The city of Memphis has released the video showing the actions of officers while arresting Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop on Jan. 7.

Jan. 27, 2023

Officials have named six officers who have already been fired in the case, and five of them now face second-degree murder charges. Those five officers’ own body cameras recorded them beating Nichols, propping the badly injured Nichols in handcuffs against an unmarked police car, and then ignoring him as he struggled to stay upright. They have pleaded not guilty.

The officers were part of a specialized crime-suppression team called the Scorpion unit, which was shut down by Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis after Nichols’ death.