An autopsy report released on Thursday revealed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols’ died of blunt force trauma to the head after Memphis police brutally beat him during what should have been a routine traffic stop.
According to the medical examiner’s report, Nichols suffered blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso, and extremities, as well as many contusions and hemorrhages throughout his body. The report also said he suffered brain hemorrhages and liver failure and that the manner of death was a homicide.
The autopsy results also debunk what RowVaugh Wells, Nichols’ mother, was told by first responders. Wells was told that her son was drunk and high at the time of the incident. In the body camera footage, you can hear officers saying that “he [Tyre] is high as a kite.”
However, Dr. Andrew Stolbach, a John Hopkins Medicine toxicologist, who reviewed the autopsy report, said, “the concentrations of alcohol and THC detected were so low.”
In fact, the amount of alcohol detected in Nichols’ system was 0.049, which is well below the legal limit of 0.08 to drive, which is, according to Stolbach, “about equivalent to a drink or two,” “It’s a level that a lot of people would have after drinking socially, people capable of driving home legally,” he added.
In a statement released after the autopsy results were made public, Nichols’ family attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci, wrote, “Video of this killing stunned the world, and we are once again stunned to see it put into words by the medical examiner. Tyre suffered blunt force injuries to the head, neck, torso, and extremities by Memphis Police.”
The statement continues, “The utter brutality of the deadly beating that Tyre suffered is once again highlighted in these official autopsy results – no part of this young man was spared as he was tortured to death by these officers.”
Nichols was stopped by police on January 7 of this year “for an alleged traffic violation and was aggressively pulled out of his car by officers.” Subsequently, he was shot with a stun gun, and after attempting to run to his nearby home, officers caught him and began punching and beating him with a baton while he yelled out to his mom for help.
While Nichols struggled and writhed on the ground from his injuries, officers stood around talking and even took photos of Nichols in this state and texted them around. Twenty-seven minutes after the EMTs arrived, Nichols was finally taken to a hospital via ambulance, but it was too late. He died three days later.
“In the days after Mr. Nichols’s death, his family publicized a graphic photo of him in the hospital, bruised and intubated, evoking the moment in 1955 when Mamie Till allowed photographs to be published of the open coffin of her 14-year-old son, Emmett after he was killed by white men in Mississippi,” the New York Times reports.
As a result of the public outcry, the five Black officers involved are facing charges of 2nd-degree murder, and the other white officer has been fired. Another officer retired before he was able to be fired, and three fire department employees on site were also fired.