January 27, 2023 news on the death of Tyre Nichols

By Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Matt Meyer, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Leinz Vales, CNN

Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT) January 28, 2023
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12:16 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

What we know — and still don't know — about Tyre Nichols' death ahead of the video release 

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji

Tyre Nichols.
Tyre Nichols. (Courtesy Ben Crump and Nichols Family)

It’s been almost three weeks since a traffic stop in Memphis led to a violent arrest and, three days later, the death of the 29-year-old Black driver.

Tyre Nichols was hospitalized after he was pulled over on January 7, police have said. Five Memphis Police Department officers, who also are Black, were fired after an internal investigation and are facing criminal charges, including second-degree murder charges.

Key questions remain unanswered as the nation – already vigilant of how police treat people of color, especially following the mass protests of 2020 – waits for police to release footage of the incident. The video footage will be released sometime after 6 p.m. CT on Friday, officials said.

Here’s what we know — and still don't know about Nichols' death:

The police "confrontation": On January 7, around 8:30 p.m., Memphis officers pulled over a vehicle for suspected reckless driving, according to a statement from Memphis police.

“A confrontation occurred” between officers and the vehicle’s driver – later identified as Nichols – who then fled on foot, according to Memphis police. Officers apprehended him and “another confrontation occurred,” resulting in Nichols’ arrest, police said.

It’s not clear what about his driving might have appeared reckless, how far Nichols fled on foot, who was involved in the initial police encounter, how officers apprehended him, how long these “confrontations” lasted, why officers felt compelled to confront Nichols twice and where exactly this happened.

At a Thursday news conference, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said there was an “elapsed period of time” in getting medical help for Nichols when he was injured during a traffic stop by Memphis police officers.

Nichols' death: On January 10, three days after the stop, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Nichols had died due to injuries sustained in the “use-of-force incident with officers,” according to a statement.

Nichols suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to preliminary results of an autopsy commissioned by attorneys for his family.

CNN has asked Crump for a copy of the autopsy commissioned by the family, but he said the full report is not yet ready. Officials have also not released Nichols’ autopsy.

Who was Tyre Nichols? Nichols was the baby of his family, the youngest of four children and he loved being a father to his son, his family said.

He was a “good boy” who spent his Sundays doing laundry and getting ready for the week, his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said.

Nichols moved to Memphis before the Covid-19 pandemic and got stuck there when things shut down, his mother said.

When he wasn’t working the second shift at FedEx, Nichols enjoyed photography and skateboarding, something he had been doing since he was 6.

Nichols had Crohn’s disease, a digestive issue, and was a slim 140 to 145 pounds despite his six-foot-three-inch height, his mother said.

What police have said since the incident: On January 18, the Department of Justice said a civil rights investigation was opened into Nichols’ death. The Memphis police chief condemned the actions of officers involved.

“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual,” Chief Cerelyn Davis said in a YouTube video Wednesday, her first on-camera comments about the arrest that preceded Nichols’ death.

Family and attorneys have seen footage of the incident: Family attorneys did watch the video on Monday and described it as “heinous.” Nichols was tased, pepper-sprayed and restrained, Benjamin Crump said, and compared it to the Los Angeles Police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Crump described the video as “appalling,” “deplorable” and “heinous.”

11:47 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Garland urges any protesters to listen to Nichols family's calls for nonviolent demonstrations

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press on Friday.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press on Friday. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols and echoed their calls to keep any protests peaceful.

"We have opened last week a federal civil rights investigation with the color of law statute, which we will be investigating. We have been working in support of the state and local law enforcement in this matter, and we will continue to do so," Garland told reporters during an unrelated news conference.

"I do want to say, and I want to repeat what the family has said, that expressions of concern when people see this video, we urge that they be peaceful and nonviolent. That is what the family has urged and that of course is what the Justice Department urges as well," Garland said, adding that he had not seen the video, but he had been briefed on it.

"I can't imagine the feelings that parents must feel under these circumstances," he added.

FBI Director Chrisotpher Wray told reporters that he had seen the video of Nichols’ arrest and that it was “appalling.” 

“I’m struggling to find a stronger word but I can tell you I was appalled,” Wray said.

CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz contributed reporting to this post.

11:20 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

All former police officers indicted in Nichols' death released on bond, according to jail records

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

The fifth former Memphis police officer indicted in the death of Tyre Nichols was released on bond Friday, according to Shelby County Jail records.

Demetrius Haley was released on $350,000 bond, jail records show

All indicted officers have been released, according to jail records.

Ex-officers Emmitt Martin and Tadarrius Bean were released on bond Thursday night into Friday, according to Shelby County Jail records. Martin was released on a $350,000 bond, while Bean was released on a $250,000 bond, jail records show. Former officers Justin Smith and Desmond Mills Jr. were also released on $250,000 bond on Thursday night, according to county jail records.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Andy Rose contributed reporting to this post.

11:02 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Memphis City Council members will be allowed to view Tyre Nichols video early

From CNN's Don Lemon

Members of Memphis City Council, who choose to view the forthcoming police video of Tyre Nichols' arrest, are being allowed to see it at noon local time, City Council Member Martavius Jones tells CNN.

That viewing will take place at city hall, at least six hours before the city release the video to the general public after 6 p.m. local time.

It is not clear where the video viewing for the city council members will take place.

2:20 p.m. ET, January 27, 2023

DHS says it's working with partners across the country in preparation for release of Nichols video

From CNN's Geneva Sands

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on Friday that it is coordinating with partners across the United States ahead of the expected release of the video in the death of Tyre Nichols later today.

The agency “will continue working with our partners across every level of government and impacted communities to share timely information and to support efforts to keep our communities safe,” it said.

Police departments in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Louisville, Indianapolis and Atlanta told CNN they are either monitoring the events in Memphis closely or already have plans in place in case of large-scale protests or unrest.  

The city of Memphis plans to release video of Nichols' fatal arrest sometime after 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET) Friday.

Memphis City Council Vice Chair JB Smiley Jr. said the city will continue to work with community leaders and organizers ahead of the video release, in hopes of quelling any potentially dangerous protests.

“I think what you will see in Memphis, you will see protests, but it will be peaceful because the Memphis Police Department, the sheriff’s department, the district attorney and the Memphis City Council, along with the city administration, has took all the necessary steps to quell any potential of rioting in our city,” Smiley said.

CNN's Kiely Westhoff, Nicki Brown and Jennifer Henderson contributed reporting to this post.

10:11 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Tyre Nichols' stepfather describes arrest video: "One officer kicked him like he was kicking a football"

From CNN's Leinz Vales and Amanda Watts

Tyre Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, described the video of his son's arrest, telling CNN that "one officer kicked him like he was kicking a football, a couple of times."

"They have this little like stick, this metal thing that they pull out," Wells told CNN's Don Lemon. "They pull out — like an antenna. I saw them pull that out and started beating my son with it. And I saw officers hitting on him, I saw officers kicking him."

Wells added that officers did not render aid to his son.

"The most telling thing about the video to me was the fact that it was maybe 10 officers on the scene and nobody tried to stop it or even after they beat him and they propped him up against the car, no one rendered aid to him whatsoever," he said. "They walked around, smoking cigarettes like it was all calm.” 

“He was sitting there, and then he slumped over. And an officer walked over to him and said, ‘sit back up mother – mf,’ you know, while he's handcuffed. So, he had to, they prop him back up, and he slumped over again, and they prop him back up again, but no one was rendering aid,” he continued.

“I saw some fire department people come out there and they just walked around and nobody showed him any aid, and they supposed to be trained in first aid. By the time the paramedic truck pulled up, that's when we couldn't see anything because the paramedic truck blocked the camera,” Wells said.

The city of Memphis plans to release the video sometime after 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET).

Watch here:

9:55 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Memphis police chief says department has not been able to substantiate reckless driving stop of Tyre Nichols

From CNN’s Amanda Watts and Andi Babineau

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis speaks during a press conference in 2022.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis speaks during a press conference in 2022. (Christine Tannous/The Commercial Appeal/USA Today Network)

In her first interview since the death of Tyre Nichols, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the police department has been unable to find anything that's substantiated the probable cause for reckless driving. 

Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday, Davis said, “We've looked at cameras, we've looked at body worn cameras, and even if something occurred prior to this stop, we've been unable to substantiate that. At this time.”

“So of course in an investigation, we begin to look at what was the probable cause for the stop? Where were the cameras? Was there some evidence on the body camera, on other cameras along those thoroughfares and we've taken a pretty extensive look to determine, you know, what that probable cause was, and we have not been able to substantiate that — it doesn't mean that something didn't happen, but there's no proof,” she said.

The city of Memphis plans to release video of Nichols' arrest sometime after 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET) Friday, according to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

Mulroy told CNN's Sara Sidner that the police report and the video of the incident do not overlap perfectly.  

He said he has seen the police report filed in the incident — which has not been released to the public — adding he won’t give too much detail about what’s in it.

“Is there overlap between the police report and the events? Yes. Is there a perfect overlap? No,” he said. “And you know that's the kind of thing that I think the ongoing federal investigation might be particularly interested in.” 

 Watch here:

9:53 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

Attorney for Memphis ex-officer: I don't believe he is capable of "delivering blows that cause death"

From CNN's Andi Babineau

Blake Ballin, the attorney representing Desmond Mills, Jr., right, interviewed on Friday.
Blake Ballin, the attorney representing Desmond Mills, Jr., right, interviewed on Friday. (CNN)

An attorney for one of the officers charged with the murder of Tyre Nichols said he doesn't believe his client "is capable of" the accusations against him. 

"When this video comes out, I expect that Mr. Mills will not be delivering blows that cause death," Blake Ballin, the attorney representing Desmond Mills, Jr., said in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon. "I've sat down with Mr. Mills, I've looked him in the eye, I know the kind of person he is; I've talked with other people who have seen the video, and I just don't believe that Mr. Mills is capable of committing that act."

Ballin said he has not watched the video himself yet, but he's spoken to people who have seen the footage.

"The levels of culpability amongst these five officers are different, and I expect that you're going to see in this video that my client Desmond Mills is not, in fact, guilty of the crimes he's been charged with," he said.

Ballin said his client is "remorseful" to be "connected to the death" of Nichols. 

"He is remorseful that he is attached to anything like this, that he is involved or connected to the death of somebody who, whose life should not have been taken. That is devastating to him."

Ballin also called Mills a "victim" of the system he worked within. 

"Just because Mr. Mills was a part of that system doesn't mean that he can't also be a victim of it, and so it's my job to protect him and to protect his rights," he said. "I believe Desmond Mills is a good person."

"I caution everyone to look at this with an open mind and to treat each of these officers as individuals," Ballin said.

9:49 a.m. ET, January 27, 2023

District attorney says charges show officers caused Tyre Nichols' death

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

Shelby County district attorney Steve Mulroy speaks about the release of the video of Tyre Nichols.
Shelby County district attorney Steve Mulroy speaks about the release of the video of Tyre Nichols. (CNN)

The Shelby County district attorney said the charges his office brought against the former Memphis officers in the death of Tyre Nichols show that they “caused his death and are responsible for his death.”

District Attorney Steve Mulroy told CNN that he wouldn’t characterize the video of the incident that will be released later on Friday, but added that anyone who has seen the video has “realized relatively quickly" that this "needed to be followed up on.”

“I will assure you that once you see the video … I think people can draw their own conclusions, but I don't imagine there'll be a lot of perceived ambiguity,” Mulroy added.

Mulroy called the video “heartbreaking.” 

When he first watched it, Mulroy said his "heart just went out to the family of Tyre Nichols, you know, because I knew eventually they would see this video, they would have to watch this.”

He said he immediately understood this incident could possibly be "explosive."

“I've only been on the job, not even five months and you know, I realized that this could be potentially explosive,” Mulroy said.