(NewsNation) — There is no evidence to back up internet claims that Tyre Nichols was in a relationship with the ex-partner of former Memphis Police Officer Demetrius Haley, a spokesperson for Nichols’ family’s attorney Tony Romanucci said.
It is also unsubstantiated that Nichols was targeted because of this, the spokesperson said, adding that whether he was or not, it does not change the fact it that the attorney’s main focus in this case is police officers abusing their power.
Haley’s attorney said he had not heard these rumors, and declined to comment on them. NewsNation reached out to Ben Crump, the other Nichols family attorney, and has so far not received a response.
Last week, the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department released video footage of five police officers beating Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx driver, as he called out for his mother during an arrest earlier this month.
The five officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, who have since been fired, are now charged with second-degree murder, among other charges.
According to Snopes, on Jan. 30 “a number of tweets and memes went viral” on social media that alleged Nichols had been in a relationship with Haley’s ex-partner.
None of the claims have been confirmed by an independent investigation, Snopes points out, or any other parties involved. The website also called the allegations a “largely unsubstantiated rumor.” Other social media users called out those spreading the claim, saying it was wrong to pass along unverified information.
Fox 13 in Memphis reported that Tyre Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, addressed the rumor as well, stating at a prayer vigil that, “my son was not messing around with one of the officer’s wives” at a prayer vigil.
During the vigil, Wells said losing Nichols, who is remembered by friends and family as a “joyful” father who loved skateboarding and photography, is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life.