Judge Blocks Release of Tyre Nichols Footage

DOJ announces review of Memphis Police Department
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2023 4:36 PM CST
Feds Announce Review of Memphis Police Department
The family of Tyre Nichols exits the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn.   (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian via AP)

The city of Memphis says it has completed its investigation into the death of Tyre Nichols after he was beaten by police—but a judge has blocked the release of 20 hours of video and audio recordings, along with personnel files. The request was filed Wednesday by an attorney for one of the five former officers charged with second-degree murder in Nichols' death, hours before the city had planned to release the footage, the Commercial Appeal reports. Earlier Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that it is planning to review the Memphis Police Department's policies, as requested by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, NPR reports.

The Justice Department said it plans to review the "policies, practices, training, data, and processes related to MPD's use of force, de-escalation and specialized units." The Justice Department has already opened a civil rights investigation of Nichols' death after a Jan. 7 traffic stop, the AP reports. The 29-year-old Black man was brutally beaten by multiple officers. In a separate effort, the department plans to look at the use of specialized police units nationwide, like the now-disbanded Scorpion unit involved in Nichols' death, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta announced Wednesday.

Some 17 city employees—13 police officers and four fire department employees—were internally charged during the city's investigation, per the Commercial Appeal. Seven officers and three fire department employees were fired. An eighth officer retired during the investigation. Under Wednesday's court order, the footage will not be released until it has been reviewed by prosecutors and defense lawyers. The Rev. Al Sharpton strongly criticized the delay in releasing the footage, reports the AP. "To tell the public you will release more evidence and then pull it back at the 11th hour only causes more frustration for a city still reeling from this senseless killing," Sharpton said. (More Tyre Nichols stories.)

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