Thousands of people, including Vice President Kamala Harris, are expected to attend the funeral of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols — a father, FedEx worker, and an avid skateboarder — who died after being beaten by five Memphis Police Department officers in early January.
The funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CT at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis on Wednesday and the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. J. Lawrence Turner, said he expects the service to be full and as many as 2,500 people to attend.
Nichols was beaten for three minutes after a traffic stop and foot chase on Jan. 7, according to body-worn and utility pole camera footage released by the Memphis Police Department. The footage shows the officers pepper-spraying, kicking, punching, and hitting Nichols while he was restrained, bashing him with a baton, and shooting him with a Taser.
After the beating, Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later, having suffered “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to an autopsy commissioned by his family.
The five officers, who are all Black, are charged with second-degree murder in Nichols’ death, among other related charges, and have all been released on bail ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
Nichols’ death has sparked mostly peaceful protests around the country and renewed discussions around federal legislation to reform policing, including the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and whether there is a possibility for systemic change. That bill failed to pass in the Senate in 2021.
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Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the civil rights organization, National Action Network, is expected to deliver the eulogy at the request of Nichols’ family. Also expected at the funeral are Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd.
The Memphis Fire Department has also fired three employees for failing to provide Nichols with adequate medical aid after arriving at the scene. Authorities on Monday announced that two additional officers have also been relieved of their duties.
The duty of officers to provide medical care was a key issue in the murder trial of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was later sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
Federal investigators have opened up a civil rights investigation and the Memphis Police Department permanently disbanded the specialized street unit the officers belonged to, which is known by the acronym SCORPION.
Nichols’ parents are set to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week after being invited by the Congressional Black Caucus, who are looking to meet with the president to push for police reform.
Story Credit: usatoday.com