Why did Memphis police stop Tyre Nichols?

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On Friday evening, Memphis officials released video footage of the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died three days after being severely beaten during a traffic stop.

The young man’s death has caused deep pain for the Nichols family, and has touched off a city-wide scandal.

Five Memphis police officers involved in the stop were fired last week, and now face murder charges.

Body-camera footage of the ordeal was released by the city at 7pm ET on Friday. The video showed officers dragging Nichols from his car and firing a taser weapon at him before he fled the scene on foot.

Here’s what we know about the traffic stop where things began:

Why was Nichols stopped?

The Memphis Police Department initially said that Nichols was pulled over around 8.30pm local time for “reckless driving.”

“As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred, and the suspect fled the scene on foot,” police said at the time. “Officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take the suspect into custody. While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended.”

Police leadership later walked back those claims.

“I’m going to be honest with you about the stop itself. What was said was there was witnessing of what was considered reckless driving,” police chief Cerelyn Davis told CNN on Friday. “We’ve looked at cameras. We’ve looked at body worn cameras. Even if something occurred prior to this stop, we’ve been unable to substantiate it.”

“We’ve taken a pretty extensive look to determine what that probable cause was and we have not been able to substantiate that,” she added. “It doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen, but there’s no proof.”

The Nichols family is also skeptical of the police version of events.

“We don’t know anything other than we got to see in the video,” Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family, said on Friday during a press conference.

“They say he was driving recklessly. We have to see it. We certainly can’t take their word for it.”

What we do know is that after the stop began, police and Nichols engaged in some kind of physical altercation, and at one point Nichols fled police.

Police dispatch audio obtained by Fox 13 captures officers saying, “We have one black male running,” while other tape obtained by CBS News records another police official say, “He’s fighting at this time.”

All told, according to the MPD, two different altercations occurred between Nichols and officers over the course of the stop, the latter taking place just blocks from Nichols’s home.

After the stop, Nichols was hospitalised and photographed with severe bruising and cuts.

He eventually died on 10 January.

An outside autopsy showed his body underwent “extensive bleeding.”

Attorneys for the Nichols family say police video of the encounter shows officers viciously beating Tyre.

“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” attorney Antonio Romanucci said of the video.

“(It) is appalling. It is deplorable. It is heinous,” Mr Crump, another attorney for the family, said.

Source: independent.co.uk