UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. ET, Jan. 31
Originally published on Jan. 25
More funeral plans for Tyre Nichols are being revealed as an investigation into the police brutality that allegedly murdered him widens in Memphis.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the family of George Floyd would be in attendance at the service being held at a local church. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents both the families of Nichols and Floyd, confirmed Floyd’s family would be in attendance “for a face-to-face meeting,” according to TMZ.
“[S]everal members of the Floyd family will be at the ceremony Wednesday in Memphis,” TMZ reported.
Nichols’ homegoing service is set for Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month. The funeral plans were revealed last week following autopsy results confirming a “severe beating” before he succumbed to those injuries. Days later, the already-fired five officers involved in the traffic stop — all Black men — were arrested and charged with murder for their roles in the police brutality shown on staggering bodycam video footage likened to the Rodney King incident.
It was in that context that Nichols’ funeral is scheduled to be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at 10 a.m. Feb. 1.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is scheduled to deliver the eulogy while civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, is slated to deliver a call to action.
Nichols’ friends and family held a public memorial last week to commemorate his life. During the service, Nichols’ stepfather called for the officers to be arrested.
“We are not going down without a fight. We need justice, we need [the Memphis Police Department] charged with [first degree murder], no involuntary manslaughter, none of that,” Rodney Wells said.
The report about the funeral came one day after it was discovered that a sixth Memphis officer was disciplined for his role in the violent Jan. 7 traffic stop that led to Nichols’ death. Officer Preston Hemphill, who is white, was shown on bodycam video footage deploying a Taser and encouraging his fellow officers to “stomp” the 29-year-old Black man. Unlike the Black officers, though, Hemphill was not fired. Instead, he was “relieved of duty,” a step that could ultimately lead to his termination pending the outcome of an investigation.
The Memphis Fire Department on Monday fired three of its workers who failed to render medical aid to Nichols. Emergency medical technicians Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge and fire engine driver Lt. Michelle Whitaker were terminated from their jobs for standing by and allowing Nichols to go untreated for injuries that contributed to his death.
However, unlike the police officers, the now-former fire personnel are not facing murder charges — yet.
What happened to Tyre Nichols?
Nichols, a 29-year-old father of a young son, died on Jan. 10, more than two days after he was pulled over under the reported suspicion of reckless driving.
Nichols’ mother said the bodycam video is evidence that the Memphis Police Department “murdered” her son.
Crump said the officers treated Nichols like “a human piñata” and compared the police violence to the infamous Rodney King beating in 1991.
“Regrettably, it reminded us of (the) Rodney King video,” Crump told reporters on Monday. “Regrettably, unlike Rodney King, Tyre didn’t survive.”
The bodycam video footage is expected to be made public in the next couple of weeks, at which time the arrests and indictments of the officers involved could come.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office suggested criminal charges could take time.
“Our office is committed to transparency and understands the reasonable request from the public to view the video footage. However, we must ensure we abide by applicable laws and ethical rules so that we do not jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution,” the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “We’re working with the appropriate agencies to determine how quickly we can release the video, and will do so as soon as we can. We’ll be sure to update the public throughout this process.”
‘… the days of Emmett Till…’
Nichols’ older brother likened the death to Emmett Till.
“Knowing the history of police interactions with the Black community throughout time, these men took a position of power and instead of doing something to better the future and honor the past, they became no better than the days of Emmett Till,” Jamal Dupree said in a joint statement with friend Angelina Paxton. “They have let us all down. Justice will be served to them.”
The Memphis Police Department (MPD) has pledged transparency and swiftly fired the five officers involved. MPD said “a confrontation occurred” during the traffic stop when officers approached Nichols, who “fled on foot.” A second unspecified “confrontation” occurred when MPD tried to take Nichols into custody, police said.
“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition,” MPD said in a press release admitting the officers “violated multiple departmental policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid.”
In addition to the police officers, two Memphis firefighters have been “relieved of duty” for their roles during the traffic stop in an indication that the investigation into the brutality is widening in scope.