Remembering Tyre Nichols

The 29-year-old FedEx driver died after a fatal beating from Memphis police


Austin Roberts

Childhood friend Austin Roberts said, “I want him to be remembered as the kid smiling in the skate video and not the kid that was fighting for his life.”

by Isabel Andjell, Staff Writer

The death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police sparked a wave of protests throughout the country. Nichols, father to a 4-year-old son from Sacramento, California, was stopped by police on January 7th for reckless driving. Nichols fled the scene and was brutally beaten before being put under arrest. An ambulance was called to the scene when he complained about shortness of breath. Three days later, Tyre Nichols passed away due to injuries sustained in the “use-of-force incident with officers,” as stated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The five officers involved in his murder were fired and are facing criminal charges. Three members of the Memphis Fire Department were also fired due failure to assist during his initial care.

On the 27th of January, the city of Memphis released the body cam and surveillance camera footage that captured the deadly confrontation. This footage contradicted the arrest report made following Nichols’ arrest. The report said the 29-year-old had reached for a cop’s gun and had made multiple attempts to fight back.  The footage only shows a powerless man who never once did what the arrest report had alleged. It also failed to report the extent of the beating Nichols endured, only mentioning that one of the cops struck Nichols in the right arm with his baton. Nichols’ incredibly unjust and unnecessary death prompted several protests in New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, and especially Memphis, where demonstrators flooded the streets and shut down 1-55 bridge for three hours.

Protestors at Lafayette Square in front of the White House (Tyrone Turner)

Nichols’ family say they want their son and brother to be remembered as a “good boy who spent his Sundays doing laundry and getting ready for the week,” as stated by his mother, RowVaughn Wells. His friend Nate Spates Jr. said that Nichols was “a free-spirited person, a gentleman who marched to the beat of his own drum.” Nichols was a skater for 23 years and had a passion for photography.

On his photography website, he wrote, “I hope to one day let people see what I see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work.”

He signed it: “Your friend, -Tyre D. Nichols.”