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Family of Tyre Nichols files lawsuit against city of Memphis in police beating

The family of Tyre Nichols, who died after a police beating, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Memphis, the police department and several individual officers. Photo courtesy of Tyre Nichols estate
1 of 5 | The family of Tyre Nichols, who died after a police beating, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Memphis, the police department and several individual officers. Photo courtesy of Tyre Nichols estate

April 19 (UPI) -- The family of Tyre Nichols, who died after a police beating, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Memphis, the police department and several individual officers.

The $500 million suit alleges negligence and excessive force and described the "savage" beating of Nichols as "a pack of wolves attempting to hunt down their prey."

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The suit names the city of Memphis, Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, individual police officers, and three Memphis Fire Department employees. It was filed by Nichol's mother RowVaughn Wells and the Tyre Nichols estate.

The lawsuit said Nichols was left unrecognizable because of the police beating he endured "at the hands of a modern-day lynch mob."

"Caught on film for all to see was the abhorrent and reprehensible conduct of the City of Memphis' unqualified, untrained, and unsupervised police officers, acting under the color of law and pursuant to officially sanctioned, unconstitutional policies and practices," the lawsuit said.

Five Memphis police officers were jailed and charged with murder in January in Nichols' beating death after a traffic stop.

The lawsuit said a reason for the traffic stop has never been substantiated, "nor could there ever be a basis for the frenzy of force that was about to be unjustifiably unleashed."

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In the wake of Nichols' killing, the aggressive street crimes police SCORPION unit was disbanded.

According to the suit, Nichols was baselessly stopped and forcefully dragged into the roadway, where police violently apprehended him without articulating the reason for the traffic stop.

Met with that initial aggression, the suit says, Nichols tried to de-escalate and then tried to flee toward his parents' home where he lived. But within feet of that home police caught him and beat the unresisting Nichols to death.

"Such a ruthless and brutal beating could only be carried out by officers that were devoid of any fear of discipline or intervention by a supervisor," the suit said.

The suit alleged that after the beating Nichols was propped up against a police car, pictures were taken, jokes were made and medical care was withheld for more than 20 minutes.

The lawsuit laid the blame for what happened on "the culmination of a department-ordered and department-tolerated rampage by the unqualified, untrained and unsupervised SCORPION unit carrying out an unconstitutional mandate on the streets of Memphis."

The suit describes SCORPION as "an officially authorized gang" of "hyper-aggressive police officers turned loose on the Memphis community without any oversight."

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