The family of Tyra Nichols, a black man who died after being violently beaten by Memphis police officers, has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against police in the US city, lawyers for his family said on Wednesday.
The January beating of Nichols, caught on camera, sparked protests across the United States about police brutality. The five officers involved in beating Nichols — who died in hospital three days later — are also black.
“The barbaric beating of Tyre Nichols was the direct and foreseeable product of unconstitutional policies, practices, customs and decisions,” the family’s attorneys for the city of Memphis and its police chief, Cerelin Davis, in Tennessee said in a statement.
The lawsuit is seeking $550 million in damages, attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference, an amount “chosen to send a message to other cities that have similar policies that say black people are black and white.” It’s okay to terrorize brown communities.”
The number is also a reference to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 55 years ago this month.
Nichols was pulled over on January 7 by Memphis’ special police unit during a traffic stop, and was brutally beaten after he ran.
Subsequently, the officers were fired, and face separate criminal charges.
Broadcaster NBC reported that by early March, more than a dozen city police and fire department employees were facing charges related to the Nichols beating.
Nichols’ death sparked a nationwide outcry, leading President Joe Biden to call the family. Vice President Kamala Harris attended Nichols’ funeral.