The US Justice Department has indicted five former Memphis police officers involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, whose widely publicised death in January led to large protests in Tennessee and across the country.
The former officers, who were charged with civil rights abuses in Memphis on Tuesday, already face a state trial on second-degree murder and other charges to which they have pleaded not guilty.
Mr Nichols died in hospital on January 10, three days after sustaining a brutal beating during a traffic stop.
Security footage showed the officers beating him with a baton as he called out for his mother. They punched and kicked him, doused him with pepper spray and used a stun gun on him.
Officers did not provide medical aid to him as he slumped – handcuffed – to the police car.
“We all heard Mr Nichols cry out for his mother and say ‘I’m just trying to go home',” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a video statement after the indictment.
“Tyre Nichols should be alive today.”
The Justice Department is also investigating de-escalation techniques taught in Memphis's police department.
The special unit to which the former officers belonged – called Scorpion – was disbanded.
Kevin Ritz, the US Attorney for West Tennessee, said at an afternoon news briefing that the indictments came from a thorough investigation and he “wants this city to be a place where Justice is done".
Kristen Clarke, who leads the civil rights division of the Justice Department, said at the appearance that the five former officers used excessive force, failed to advise medical personnel about Mr Nichols’s injuries and conspired to cover up their misconduct.
“In our country, no one is above the law," Ms Clarke said.
She said she had met Nichols’s mother and stepfather earlier on Tuesday.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, lawyers for Nichols's family, said in a statement that the federal indictment "gives his family hope as they continue to grieve his loss and inspire change in his honour".
Mr Nichols's mother is suing the city of Memphis and its police chief over her son's death.
Agencies contributed to this report