The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a civil rights investigation into the City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department (MPD) to determine whether there is a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal civil rights laws. This investigation comes after the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who was tased, pepper-sprayed, and brutally beaten by Memphis police officers during a traffic stop. Nichols died three days later, and federal investigators subsequently initiated a civil rights investigation into his death.
Tyre Nichols' Death
Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was stopped by Memphis police officers for alleged reckless driving on January 7, 2023. The situation escalated into a violent confrontation, with officers tasing, pepper-spraying, and brutally beating Nichols. He was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later. Five former Memphis police officers, all of whom are also Black, have been charged with murder in connection with Nichols' death.
1. Whether MPD engages in a pattern or practice of making unlawful stops, searches, and arrests.
2. If MPD engages in patterns or practice of excessive force.
3. If the Memphis Police Department engages in racially discriminatory policing practices with respect to Black residents of Memphis.
The investigation is civil in nature and not connected to any criminal investigations against the MPD or any current or former officers. If the DOJ finds that MPD violated the Constitution or civil rights in a systemic way, they will work with the city and the police department to develop and implement reforms to address the issues.
In addition to the civil rights investigation, the DOJ had previously announced a review of the MPD's specialized units, requested by Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis.
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