Friends Mourn Tyre Nichols After Memphis Police Custody Death

In early January, Christina Chacon was startled awake when her husband called to say that Tire Nichols was in the hospital.

That’s when she discovered that her silly, optimistic, and cheerful confidant was in critical condition after he was arrested by police in Memphis, Tennessee. He later died from his wounds.

Since then, it has been like a bad dream for her and her husband, who have known and lived with the man for many years.

“We will talk about the BLM movement and how many police officers are abusing their power and using excessive force over and over again. Killing innocent lives, especially young Black men,” Chacon, 30, told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “I never thought he would be one of them. And I never thought it would be five Black cops.”

Chacon’s husband, Kristopher Volker, said Nichols has even talked about becoming a police officer.

Volker, 30, said: “Recently, he had the idea, I guess…. that he might want to be a cop to be able to make that change. something different.”

Christina Chacon and Kristopher Volker pictured with Tire Nichols

Christina Chacon and Kristopher Volker pose for a photo with Tire Nichols.

Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/Getty/Courtesy of Christina Chacon

Nichols, 29, died on January 10, just months before his long-awaited 30th birthday after days in the hospital.

That day they lost their best friend, both Chacon and her husband told The Beast.

On the night of January 7, Nichols was driving home when he was stopped and arrested by Memphis Police. While details of the events leading up to his death are still few and far between, he was immediately hospitalized following the encounter.

Initially, police only mentioned two confrontations with Nichols after he was stopped at a traffic stop. The police report also reflects that Nichols was on the run from officers.

But in the days since, five police officers involved in the arrest have been fired for excessive force, and two fire department employees have been dismissed following an unconfirmed internal investigation. publication of the events leading up to Nichols’ death.

According to the family’s attorneys, gruesome details have also emerged from the family who watched the video of the arrest — which they likened to the beating of Rodney King — and the preliminary independent autopsy results for the arrest. found that Nichols was “bleeding heavily from the brutal beatings”. .

Every gruesome detail that emerges raises anticipation for the release of police video that will show what really happened to a man who, according to his mother RowVaughn Wells, is “” almost perfect”.

“From the beginning I had a really bad feeling and we were all very confused. Like, a confrontation with the police? Chacon told The Daily Beast, questioning why her friend was running in the first place. “Looks like it just doesn’t fit Tire.”

“I want people to see him for who he is and not just another victim,” Volker said. “And that’s what I hope people get out of this: to meet the real Tire, the beautiful soul that sees the good in people and wants to change her community.”

RowVaugn Wells, second from left, gets emotional during a news conference at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME after she watched footage of a violent clash with police that led to the death of her son Tire Nichols Memphis, TN on January 23, 2023.

Brandon Dill for The Washington Post via Getty Images

By all accounts, the couple knew him well.

Nichols had been close friends with Chacon’s husband, Kristopher Volker, since they were children – and became something of a brother when Nichols moved in with the Volkers as a teenager. Since then, they have become inseparable, Volker said.

According to Chacon, Nichols has been at every birthday party, every major event since she met him six years ago. They lived together and even moved to Tennessee together from their hometown of Sacramento, California.

“When me and my husband got married, he was the best man and all that,” she said. “And I think he ended up paying for our hotel room that night.”

At first, Chacon thought Nichols was more like an annoying little brother, but they quickly became close. She fondly recalls how Nichols would blow up eclectic music and dance when he cleaned up in the morning—usually with the Backstreet Boys, rock artists, and ever since him. moved to Memphis, country music.

He also often dances to those songs on TikTok, where he also shares jokes and videos of sunsets, as well as reposts videos protesting George Floyd’s death and racist policies .

Nichols even wrote “DO NOT SILENCE” in capital letters under a video where he retweeted a man comforting a black boy as he cried and said, “I could die of the color of my skin.” mine.”

A portrait of Tire Nichols is on display at his memorial on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn.

A portrait of Tire Nichols is on display at his memorial on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed when he was stopped by Memphis Police on January 7.

AP Photo / Adrian Sainz

The pair also recall a time when Tire wore a pink wig in their backyard and took on the role of a character named “Tyreka” to make jokes.

In recent years, Chacon has been struck by Nichols’ insights as they smoke together and chat about life. And Volker recalls that in Memphis, Nichols had hoped to work long enough to be able to move into his own apartment and “bring back his son.”

When the trio decided to move to Tennessee, Chacon remembers worrying about Trump politics and “that there’s a lot of hate going on around and that it can be very difficult living in a red state.”

But, she said, Nichols himself understood that wherever he went, he was at risk.

“I think he understood that it could happen no matter where he was because he was just a Black man. So I think he may have accepted the fact that he may have encountered some social injustice.

Since his death, Volker and Chacon plan to get a tattoo in memory of their fallen friend.

Chacon himself got a tattoo based on a drawing Nichols drew from dreamcatcher.

“I would never be the same without him,” she said.


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