A family lawyer says a man who died after allegedly being beaten by police for three minutes was a “human pinata” for officers.

Tire Nichols, 29, died in hospital three days after a confrontation during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 7.

The father of one had been arrested after being pulled over for reckless driving, police said.

Five black officers involved in the arrest have been fired after a police investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene to help him.

Relatives have accused police of attacking Mr Nichols and causing him a heart attack. But authorities only said he had a medical emergency.

A lawyer for Mr Nichols’ family, Antonio Romanucci, said the beating lasted three minutes and “he was a human pinata for these police officers”.

Another attorney, Ben Crump, said body camera footage of the incident reminded family and attorneys of the infamous video of Los Angeles police beating Rodney King, a clip that sparked riots in the city. city ​​in 1991.

He said footage of the latest encounter showed it to be ‘violent’ and ’embarrassing on every level’, and added that it was ‘appalling’, ‘deplorable’ and ‘odious’.

Mr Crump said the video would be made public but not for another week or two.

Investigators don’t want to show it yet because they don’t want to risk jeopardizing the investigation, according to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

An image of Mr Nichols when he was in hospital. Photo: AP

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fear of riots

City and community leaders fear the footage could cause civil unrest when it is finally released.

Mr Nichols’ father-in-law, Rodney Wells, said the family hoped any protest would remain peaceful.

Van Turner, president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights organization, also said the city seemed tense as they waited for the video.

He praised the city and the police department for acting “quickly” in firing the officers, identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith.

(LR) Officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean
(LR) Officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean have been sacked

“No cause of death established”

The day after Mr Nichols was arrested, the police department said that when officers approached his vehicle, “a confrontation ensued” and he fled.

He said officers then caught up to him and “another confrontation occurred” as they took him into custody.

He complained of shortness of breath and was hospitalized, police said.

A cause of death has not been determined, officials said.

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