In connection with the killing of Tyre Nichols, 29, five former Memphis police officers were charged on January 26 with second-degree murder. However, the latest trending Google search is whether or not Tyre Nichols had a prior criminal record. 

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In Memphis, Nichols was pulled over on January 7 on suspicion of “reckless driving,” according to a previous police statement.

Suggested autocomplete for “Tyre Nichols” (Photo: Twitter/@alexandriaESG)

Authorities said that after being stopped, a confrontation took place, and Nichols eventually fled on foot. A second altercation resulted from the five police’ subsequent capture of him. According to the police, Nichols was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition and complained of “shortness of breath.” He passed away from his wounds on January 10.

Lawyers for his family said the officers acted like a “pack of wolves” and beat him “like a human pinata”.

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There has been a greater focus on Nicholas’ past and whether he has previously had any contact with the Memphis police department because of the murky sequence of events that led to his death. 

However, Opoyi has not found any such evidence to substantiate these claims. Netizens have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on these claims, arguing that it stems from a racial bias. One user tweeted “When you search Google for Tyre Nichols, a top prediction is “tyre nichols criminal record.”

Autocomplete predictions reflect real Google searches. A reaction of many was to Google a murder victim’s criminal record. Clear indications of unconscious racial bias are everywhere.”

Some users online commented that even if he did have a record, no one deserves to be beaten like that.

Cerelyn Davis, the first black woman to hold the position of the police chief, expressed disbelief to the BBC.
“Something happened that we can’t explain,” she said.

Davis also criticized the five cops who took part in the incident: Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith. “This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual. This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency, when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves,” she said.