Autopsy indicates Tyre Nichols was beaten by police - lawyers

The mother of Tyre Nichols, second from left, at a press conference after she viewed footage encounter that led to her son's death. Also pictured from left: attorney Antonio Romanucci, husband Rodney Wells, and attorney Ben Crump
Rowvaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, was visibly emotional after viewing footage of the encounter that led to her son's death

An autopsy indicates that a black man who died after being stopped by police in Tennessee was severely beaten, his family's lawyers say.

Tyre Nichols, 29, was stopped in Memphis on 7 January for reckless driving. He died three days later.

The Memphis Police Department has fired five officers, all of them black, following his death.

Mr Nichols's lawyers released a statement on Tuesday that included details from a forensic pathologist.

"Preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating," lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said.

They added that Mr Nichols' injuries were "consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police" and said they would release further information at a later stage.

Mr Nichols was stopped by police on his way to a local park, his mother said.

City officials said police officers pulled him over for reckless driving and two "confrontations" occurred.

According to authorities, the first happened as officers approached the vehicle and he attempted to flee on foot. They said the second confrontation happened when officers tried to arrest him.

Memphis authorities said he was pulled over for reckless driving and that two confrontations occurred. Officers approached his vehicle and Mr Nichols attempted to flee on foot. Police then tried to arrest him.

Mr Nichols later complained of shortness of breath and was taken to hospital, police said, where he was listed in a critical condition. Officials said Mr Nichols had "succumbed to his injuries" on 10 January, but provided no further detail. An official cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

The FBI and the Department of Justice have opened a civil rights investigation into Mr Nichols's death.

"My son was a beautiful soul," said Mr Nichols's mother, Rowvaughn Wells. "Nobody is perfect, but he was damn near." She called her son's death a "murder".

Mr Nichols's family was shown bodycam footage of the encounter on Monday, but it has not been made public.

The family's lawyers have compared the incident to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Community members and local activists demanded more transparency from the police during a Memphis City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Some brought signs to the meeting reading "Footage or not, we know it was murder" and "Justice for Tyre".

"We pay for these cameras," said one speaker. "We want to see what's going on."

The county's district attorney said the video would be released either this week or next week, in conjunction with possible charges against the officers.

Also on Tuesday, the Memphis Fire Department said two employees who were involved in Mr Nichols's care had been placed on leave pending an investigation.

The department did not disclose any further details about what role they played or whether they would continue to be paid.

The BBC has contacted Memphis city officials for comment.