The family of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died after being violently beaten by Memphis police officers, has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against police in the US city, lawyers for his family said Wednesday.
Nichols’ January battering, captured on camera, sparked protests across the United States about police brutality. The five officers implicated in beating Nichols — who died in the hospital three days later — are also Black.
“The savage beating of Tyre Nichols was the direct and foreseeable product of the unconstitutional policies, practices, customs, and decisions” of the city of Memphis, in Tennessee, and its police chief, Cerelyn Davis, the lawyers for the family said in a statement.
The lawsuit is seeking $550 million in damages, an amount chosen “to send the message to other cities that have similar policies that say it’s ok to terrorize Black people in Black and brown communities,” lawyer Ben Crump said at a news conference.
The number is also a reference to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 55 years ago this month.
Nichols was pulled over on January 7 by a Memphis special police unit during a traffic stop, and was brutally beaten after he ran.
In the aftermath, the officers were fired, and face separate criminal charges.
By early March, more than a dozen city police and fire department employees were facing charges related to Nichols’ beating, broadcaster NBC reported.
Outrage around Nichols’ death swept the country, spurring a call to the family by President Joe Biden. Vice President Kamala Harris attended Nichols’ funeral.