Tyre Nichols’ family, attorney ask United Nations for help in fight for justice

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The family of Tyre Nichols and their attorneys are taking their fight for justice to the international stage. They sent a letter to the United Nations demanding change in MPD and law enforcement agencies nationwide Friday.

Attorneys for Nichols’ family released the following statement:

“Today, we filed an Urgent Appeal before the United Nations asking it to condemn the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols, to demand transparency from the police department, and to demand that Officer Preston Hemphill and all officers that participated in the incident are criminally charged. The video evidence shows that all who were involved in Tyre’s death committed reprehensible acts that require international condemnation.”

In the letter obtained by FOX13, the appeal requests urgent action for the “torture and extrajudicial killing” of Nichols that occurred on Jan. 7 and caused his death three days later.

The letter, addressed to the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland describes Tyre Nichols’ death as being part of a larger pattern of police brutality around the country. It compares his death to those of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Nichols’ family and their attorneys believe that former MPD officer Preston Hemphill was not criminally charged because of his race, according to the letter.

The family is asking for the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office to arrest and criminally charge Hemphill for his role in Nichols’ death.

In addition to justice, they are asking for changes at the Memphis Police Department, and the US “long pattern and practice of lethal police violence” against Blacks.

“I’m not surprised,” Bennie Cobb, veteran of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement expert, said. “The egregious nature of this incident, this murder, this assault by the gang in blue; I see the attorney and the family reaching out to the broadest, most extensive entity that they can find.”

Cobb said he has never heard of a police brutality victim’s family reaching out to the UN before but he believes the action is justified.

“Memphis is in the eyes of the world right now,” he said. “I think the attorneys are playing smart chess by getting international recognition and requests. I don’t know if it’s going to be granted, but they’re putting this case in the ears, in the hands of the people that basically monitor what goes on in the world.”

The letter also calls for the name and details of a seventh officer involved to be released.

“Well, it appears that this family is desperate to get some sort of recourse from this particular incident,” Mike Collins, another SCSO veteran and law enforcement expert, said. “And apparently they might feel that the criminal justice system is letting them down by not pursuing the additional officers that were involved in this particular incident.”

The letter calls for an end to qualified immunity, police use of military equipment and training as well as mandating de-escalation training.

“I think it’s a new day,” Cobb said. “I think every police officer across the world, across the United States, is watching this case.”

The letter calls for every law enforcement agency to have civilian review boards and mandatory body camera, with footage immediately released following a death. It calls for an independent commission to review killings, as well as independent prosecution.

“These are things that are all being evaluated and investigated and that should come at the local level,” Collins said. “In my opinion, they should give the federal authorities the opportunity to complete their investigations as it relates to civil rights and let the local D.A. determine what are the articulable facts that you can actually prosecute and get a conviction.”

“The prosecutors, the district attorney’s office, has worked closely with law enforcement and they are the number one law enforcement entity in the county,” Cobb said. “And so, a lot of victims or attorneys may feel like that the deck is stacked against them already.”

The letter requests federal oversight and consent decrees be reinstated for the Memphis Police Department.

“There’s monitoring by the federal Department of Justice to make sure that the law enforcement entities are not discriminating and not abusing the citizens and following the law,” Cobb explained. “Especially civil rights issues.”

The final of 11 requests in the letter is that the UN use its special procedures to ensure the US upholds its human rights obligations.

“All who were involved in Tyre’s death committed reprehensible acts that require international condemnation,” the attorneys for Nichols’ family said in a statement.