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Justice Dept. to Investigate for Civil Rights Abuses by Memphis Police


The Justice Department said on Thursday that it had begun a sweeping civil rights investigation into policing in Memphis, examining allegations of pervasive problems with excessive force and unlawful stops of Black residents that were amplified by the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in January.

In announcing the investigation, officials specifically cited the death of Mr. Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, whose beating by Memphis police officers on Jan. 7, 2023, was captured by body camera and surveillance footage. The case stoked outrage across the country and directed intense scrutiny onto how the Memphis Police Department operates.

The investigation, officials said, intends to explore those broader concerns and whether there has been a pattern or practice of violating civil rights. It follows the mold of other investigations started after high-profile cases of deadly violence by officers elsewhere, including in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd and in Louisville, Ky., after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said on Thursday that though Mr. Nichols’s death was a factor in the investigation, the inquiry was “not based on a single incident or event.”

Federal officials said the civil rights investigation was separate from a continuing criminal investigation related to Mr. Nichols’s death. Five Memphis police officers have already been charged in state court with second-degree murder in connection with the fatal beating. All have pleaded not guilty to those charges.

This is a developing news story. Check back for updates.



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