CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Tyre Nichols died from blunt force trauma to the head from Memphis police beating, autopsy shows

May 5, 2023, 5:00 AM

Tyre Nichols died from blunt force trauma to the head and his death has been ruled a homicide. Photo credit: Provided by Ben Crump

 (CNN) — Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who was violently beaten by Memphis police officers in January, died from blunt force trauma to the head and his death has been ruled a homicide, his autopsy results revealed Thursday.

The Shelby County medical examiner’s report, obtained by CNN affiliate WMC, shows Nichols had tearing and rupturing in his brain, and suffered cuts and bruising all over his body — including his neck and torso.

Nichols was repeatedly punched and kicked by five Memphis Police Department officers on January 7 following a traffic stop and brief foot chase. He required hospitalization after the encounter and died three days later.

A toxicology report performed on Nichols detected the presence of chemicals associated with marijuana and alcohol use, the report says. Nichols’ blood alcohol content was 0.049, which is below the legal limit of 0.08 in the state of Tennessee.

CNN has contacted the Shelby County medical examiner to obtain a direct copy of Nichols’ autopsy report.

The Nichols’ family attorney, Benjamin Crump, released a statement on Thursday, saying the video of his killing “stunned the world, and we are once again stunned to see it put into words by the medical examiner.”

“The utter brutality of the deadly beating that Tyre suffered is once again highlighted in these official autopsy results,” the statement continued.

The five former Memphis police officers, who are Black, pleaded not guilty at their arraignment on February 17 after being indicted on seven counts each, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and official misconduct.

Former Memphis officer Preston Hemphill, who is white, was fired and charged departmentally — not criminally — over policy violations, the agency said. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office told CNN on Tuesday that it will not pursue criminal charges against Hemphill.

The five charged officers were part of the department’s specialized SCORPION unit, which was launched in 2021 to take on a rise in violent crime in Memphis. Police said the unit was permanently deactivated shortly after Nichols’ death.

Memphis police under DOJ investigation

Body camera videos and surveillance footage from Nichols’ arrest were released on January 27, publicly revealing the severity of the beating, and sparked widespread condemnation from residents and police officials and, the county prosecutor said, contradicting what officers said happened in the initial police report.

The video prompted renewed national debate on justice in policing and reform, shaking a nation accustomed to videos of police brutality — especially against people of color. It also spurred protests and vigils in Memphis and other major US cities.

The US Department of Justice is reviewing the Memphis Police Department. The DOJ also said it would separately review specialized units across the US and create a guide for their use in addition to its review of the Memphis PD.

Last month, the Nichols family filed a federal $550 million lawsuit against the city of Memphis, its police department and what the suit said were “unqualified, untrained, and unsupervised” officers assigned to the SCORPION unit involved in the encounter with Nichols, CNN previously reported.

The civil lawsuit, filed by lawyers for Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said the fatal beating was the “direct and foreseeable product of the unconstitutional policies, practices, customs, and deliberate indifference of the City of Memphis” and its police officials.

“This has nothing to do with the monetary value of this lawsuit,” Wells told reporters in April when the filing of the lawsuit was announced.

“But everything that has to do with accountability,” she continued. “Those five police officers murdered my son. They beat him to death and they need to be held accountable along with everyone else that has something to do with my son’s murder.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Scot Peterson shown, a school arming school staff is aw...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker discusses arming school workers

Arming school workers will lead to safer schools, says a Utah lawmaker whose bill awaits the governor's pen to become law.

1 day ago

Bountiful police car...

JOSH ELLIS KSLTV.com

One man dead after shooting in Bountiful

Officers in Bountiful arrived on the scene and found a man in his 20s with a gunshot wound. The man later died at the hospital.

3 days ago

execution chamber in idaho prison...

Associated Press

Idaho halts execution by lethal injection after 8 failed attempts to insert IV line

Thomas Eugene Creech Creech, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the U.S., was wheeled into the execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution on a gurney at 10 a.m.

3 days ago

Ruby Franke stands with her attorney, Lamar Winward, at her sentencing on Tuesday. Her brother and ...

Jessica Lowell

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt transferred to Utah State Correctional Facility

The two women will each spend one to 15 years at the facility for child abuse.

3 days ago

Ruby Franke appears in a virtual court appearance....

Adam Small

Utah legislators hear from Kevin Franke on life coach regulation

Lawmakers hear from Kevin Franke about regulating life coaches. His ex-wife Ruby Franke and her partner Jodi Hildebrandt are in prison.

4 days ago

Former president Donald Trump, Manhattan trial...

MICHAEL R. SISAK

With trial starting next month, Manhattan DA asks judge for a gag order in Trump’s hush-money case

The Manhattan DA's office asked that Trump be barred from making or directing others to make public statements about people involved in the case.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Tyre Nichols died from blunt force trauma to the head from Memphis police beating, autopsy shows