Among those planning to join the mourners is US Vice President Kamala Harris who spoke with Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, in a private telephone call.

The Reverend Al Sharpton will eulogise Nichols
The Reverend Al Sharpton will eulogise Nichols (AFP)

Family and friends of Tyre Nichols will pay their final respects on Wednesday to the Black 29-year-old father whose fatal encounter with Memphis police last month transformed him into the new face of the US racial justice movement.

The Reverend Al Sharpton will eulogise Nichols, and another prominent civil rights leader, attorney Ben Crump, will deliver a "call to action" during a funeral at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Nichols' adopted hometown of Memphis.

Among those planning to join the mourners was US Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Crump said the Nichols family invited. 

Harris spoke with Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, in a private telephone call on Tuesday, he said.

Relatives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, two other African Americans whose deaths in 2020 at the hands of police in Louisville, Kentucky, and Minneapolis, became rallying cries for the Black Lives Matter movement, were also invited to attend.

The funeral service was scheduled to begin at 10:30 am local time, but inclement weather and travel delays pushed the start time back to 1 pm (1900 GMT), Crump said in a statement on Wednesday morning.

Nichols, a FedEx worker who skateboarded and studied photography, died on January 10 while hospitalised for injuries he sustained three days earlier when beaten by Memphis police who pulled him over on his way home, an incident that Crump has branded a "police lynching."

The Memphis Police Department subsequently fired five of the officers, who also are Black, and prosecutors charged them last week with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression.

Two other officers implicated in the events leading to Nichols' death have been relieved of duty - effectively suspended - and are under investigation. Two paramedics and their on-scene supervisor were dismissed on Monday from the city fire department, while two Shelby County sheriff's deputies have been suspended.

Police video of the confrontation released by the city on Friday showed officers dousing Nichols with pepper spray and pummeling him with punches, kicks and baton blows as he cried out for his mother. One officer was seen firing a Taser stun gun at Nichols when he attempted to flee.

The footage ends showing Nichols was left handcuffed, bloodied and slumped against the side of a police vehicle for nearly a quarter-hour before receiving medical attention.

READ MORE: Police violence victim Tyre Nichols to be laid to rest in US' Memphis city

Source: Reuters