MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — On the eve of Tire Nichols’s funeral, his family plans to reunite Tuesday with Reverend Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump at Memphis’ historic Mason Temple, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. he delivered his final speech the night before he was assassinated, to address the latest developments in the case.
Two other Memphis police officers have been disciplined and three first responders fired in connection with Nichols’ death, officials said Monday. Officer Preston Hemphill, who is white, and another officer whose name has not been released have been suspended, police said.
Five black officers were fired last week and charged with second-degree murder and other felonies in the Jan. 7 beating of Nichols and death three days later. Video of the beating, which was released publicly last week, shows that many more people failed to help Nichols than the five officers charged in his death.
Six officers were part of the so-called Scorpion unit, which targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas. Other Memphis residents who say they were “brutalized” by unit officers will speak out, according to a statement by Crump.
Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said after the video was released that the unit was disbanded.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but due to the gravity of the situation it’s not enough,” said Damion Carrick, 44, as he attended a protest at Shelby Farms Park on Monday night. “You had a man dragged out of his car, beaten to death, beaten to a pulp and nobody did anything about it. He is heartbreaking.
Nichols’ death was the latest in a long line of early police reports of their use of force that were later shown to have minimized or omitted violent and sometimes deadly encounters.
Memphis Police Department officers used a stun gun, baton and their fists as they punched Nichols during the night arrest. The video shows Nichols fleeing officers to his home after being pulled over on suspicion of reckless driving. Footage released Friday shows the 29-year-old father calling his mother and struggling with her injuries as he sits helplessly on the sidewalk.
The five officers chatted and hung around for several minutes while Nichols remained down, but there were other authorities on the scene. Two Shelby County sheriff’s deputies were also suspended without pay while their conduct is investigated.
Nichols’ older brother, Jamal Dupree, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday that he feels guilty because he wasn’t there to protect his younger brother.
“I’m 99% sure my brother has never fought before. And the one time he got into fights with other humans, we weren’t there to protect him. My brother was trying to partner with them,” Dupree, who lives in California, said of the Memphis officers.
Dupree said he didn’t see the police video.
“I already knew how they treated him because I’ve seen him all over the world,” Dupree said. “Police brutality is nothing new. I already knew they treated my brother like an animal. They treated him like it was nothing. I don’t need to watch the video to know that.
She said she has seen reports about her brother and thinks other people are learning who he was as a person.
“I think people really know my brother didn’t deserve this,” she told CNN. “He wasn’t that kind of person. Yes, he was just a good guy on the board. … We want justice.
RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, Nichols’ mother and stepfather, have accepted an invitation to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week on Capitol Hill. They will attend with Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Nevada and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to Vincent Evans, a spokesman for the caucus.
Nichols’ funeral is set for Wednesday at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. Sharpton will deliver the eulogy and Crump will speak immediately after the funeral. Among the people expected to be present are Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, and Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.
The deaths of Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Floyd in Minneapolis, at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice.
Associated Press reporters Gary Fields in Memphis; Darlene Superville in Washington; and Rebecca Reynolds of Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report. For more coverage of the Tire Nichols case, go to https://apnews.com/hub/tyre-nichols.