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

Tyre Nichols, 29, died in hospital three days after a confrontation during a traffic stop in the US city of Memphis, Tennessee, on 7 January.

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

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

Relatives have accused police of attacking Mr Nichols and causing him to have a heart attack. But authorities have 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 those police officers”.

Another lawyer, Ben Crump, said the bodycam footage of the incident reminded the family and lawyers of the 1991 video of Rodney King being beaten by police in Los Angeles, where a year later officers were acquitted by a jury, leading to riots in the city.

He said the footage of the latest encounter shows it was “violent” and “troublesome on every level”, and added it was “appalling”, “deplorable” and “heinous”.

Mr Crump said the video will be released to the public but not for a week or two.

Investigators do not want to show it yet because they do not want to risk compromising the investigation, according to Shelby County district attorney Steve Mulroy.

A photo of Tyre Nichols when he was in hospital. Pic: AP
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An image is held up of Mr Nichols when he was in hospital. Pic: AP

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Fear of riots

There is concern among city and community leaders that the footage could cause civil unrest when it is eventually released.

Mr Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, said the family hopes that any protests stay peaceful.

Van Turner, president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, a civil rights organisation, also said the city seems tense as it waits for the video.

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

(L-R) Officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean
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(L-R) 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’ arrest, the police department stated that as officers approached his vehicle, “a confrontation occurred” and he ran.

It said officers then caught up with him and “another confrontation occurred” while they were taking him into custody.

He complained of shortness of breath and was admitted to hospital, according to police.

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

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Couple ‘likely dead’ after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

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Couple 'likely dead' after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts

An American couple who disappeared a week ago after their catamaran was hijacked by three escaped convicts are likely dead, police have said.

Police Commissioner Don McKenzie said the prisoners had escaped custody on the Caribbean island of Grenada on the 18 February and the following day commandeered a catamaran named Simplicity – with Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry on board.

“Information suggests that while travelling between Grenada and St Vincent, they disposed of the occupants,” Commissioner McKenzie said.

The couple was last seen on the night the prisoners escaped and their boat was later tracked leaving the Grenada late at night at an unusual speed.

Police in St Vincent and the Grenadines captured the three fugitives on Wednesday, he said, adding that a team from Grenada had been dispatched to collaborate on “having a complete and thorough investigation of the matters at hand”.

The island nations are separated by about 85 nautical miles.

Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and 25-year-old Abita Stanislaus were being held at the South Saint George Police Station near Grenada’s southwestern tip on charges of robbery with violence, when they escaped.

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Mitchell also faces counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.

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Police from St Vincent said in a statement they had discovered the ship with no bodies but items strewn across the deck and possible blood on board.

On Monday the suspects appeared in court in St Vincent on four immigration counts, to which they pleaded guilty, and they had been remanded into custody with sentencing set for 4 March.

St Vincent Police Superintendent Junior Simmons said that though the couple are presumed dead, “the investigation and search for the missing persons continues.”

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Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

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Taylor Swift's dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show

An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.

Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.

While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.

Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.

They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.

Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.

“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.

“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.

“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”

Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.

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“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.

“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.

“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”

Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’

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Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed 'by end of the weekend'

Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.

The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.

Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.

In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.

“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Pic: AP
Image:
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, New York. Pic: AP

Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.

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According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.

Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.

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