The Justice Department and the FBI announced Wednesday a civil rights investigation into a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, that preceded the death of a black man.

Tire Nichols, 29, died three days after being taken to hospital in critical condition following the January 7 stop. The Memphis Police Department said the case was referred to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation the next day and an internal investigation into the incident was opened.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee announced Wednesday that the FBI’s Memphis field office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division also began investigating Nichols’ death.

«As this is an open investigation, we are unable to provide additional comment or release any further information at this time,» said Kevin G. Ritz, US District Attorney.

Nichols’ family hired civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and demanded the release of the body camera and any other surveillance video from the stop.

Family members and local activists hold a rally for Tire Nichols at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 16, 2023.
Family members and local activists hold a rally Monday for Tire Nichols at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.Mark Weber/Daily Memphis via AP

“No one should be killed by a simple traffic stop – the images are the only way to discern the true narrative of why and how this happened to Tire,” Crump said in a statement Monday.

Crump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News on the civil rights investigation on Wednesday.

Memphis officials, including Police Chief CJ Davis and Mayor Jim Strickland, said Tuesday that the images would be released after the conclusion of the internal investigation. The police department said it anticipates that to happen by the end of the week.

Neither the mayor’s office nor the police department immediately responded to a request for comment from NBC News on Wednesday.

Police said a «confrontation» ensued between Nichols and officers as they approached her car on January 7. He ran away and officers gave chase, police said.

“While trying to detain the suspect, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended,” the police department said in the Jan. 8 statement. «Afterward, the suspect complained of having difficulty breathing, at which point he called an ambulance.»

Police did not provide details about the confrontation. A photo provided by his stepfather, Rodney Wells, showed Nichols in the hospital with blood on his face and what appeared to be a swollen eye.

Wells has also told the NBC affiliate WMC of Memphis that Nichols was placed on a dialysis machine at the hospital.

The police department said in its opening statement that the district attorney’s office had been contacted and the state investigative office had been asked to investigate. The officers, who were not publicly identified, were relieved of their duties pending the outcome, a routine practice.

Sierra Rogers, holding her 1-year-old daughter Khloe Rogers, wipes away tears as she speaks during a memorial service for her friend Tire Nichols on January 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sierra Rogers, holding her daughter Khloe Rogers, wipes away tears as she speaks during a memorial service for her friend Tire Nichols on Tuesday. Mark Weber/Daily Memphis via AP

Nichols’ friends and family held a memorial service for him Tuesday, sharing memories of the 29-year-old as a «silly» boy who grew up to be a loving man.

“From the first day I met Tyre, I was Pops. I was a dad,» Wells said at the service. «He hugged me. The first Father’s Day, he brought me a Father’s Day gift, and he was very happy. … Tire is a great person.”

LaToya Yiza, whose mother was Nichols’ godmother, remembered Nichols as a baby. She said they grew up like siblings, walking to school together when she was in high school and Nichols was in elementary school.

“He was a happy kid, so silly,” Yiza said, getting emotional. “You’d walk in and he’d be saying the craziest thing. … I’ll miss him. To see the man he turned out to be, he was a good man. He didn’t deserve this.»