Critics Said Took A While, but Memphis Police Target of Probe by DOJ after January 2023 Killing of Tyre Nichols

PC: Thomas R Machnitzki
Via Wikimedia Commons

By The Vanguard

MEMPHIS, TN – It may have taken a while, according to critics, but the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced this month it’s “investigating whether the Memphis Police Department participates in discriminatory practices against Black people, following the high-profile police killing of Tyre Nichols earlier this year,” according to a Huffington Post story.

Huff News wrote “Nichols’ killing in January sparked nationwide outrage. Body camera footage showed five officers beating the 29-year-old Black man after a traffic stop in a residential Tennessee neighborhood.”

The Justice Department initiated a review of the Memphis Police Department after Nichols’ death, and a  “patterns and practices” review is expected to produce a broader look at how the department handles policing. 

“The tragic death of Tyre Nichols created enormous pain in the Memphis community and across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“The Justice Department is launching this investigation to examine serious allegations that the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department engage in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct and discriminatory policing based on race, including a dangerously aggressive approach to traffic enforcement. 

“We are committed to working cooperatively with local officials, police, and community members to conduct the thorough and comprehensive review that the residents of Memphis deserve,” the Garland statement continued.

“Authorities indicated the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) investigation is separate from the civil investigation into the department as well as from the federal criminal civil rights investigation of MPD officers related to Nichol’s death,” wrote the Huffington Post.

The Post said the “city of Memphis finds itself at the center of national discussions on policing and rebuilding trust with communities,” noting Nichols died the night of Jan. 7 as he was fleeing a traffic stop.

“Five Black police officers were seen taking turns punching and beating him on video footage released by the city,” the Huffington Post said, adding, “The case has since sparked outrage among other families nationwide whose loved ones were killed by police violence, and many such families in Memphis have demanded their family members’ cases be reopened.

“Nichols’ death and broader conversations about policing have taken a key role in the city’s upcoming mayoral election, while criticism of Cerelyn Davis, the current Memphis police chief, has led to questions of whether the city might bring in a new top cop,” wrote the Post.

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