Hundreds of people have gathered in a Memphis church to bid farewell to Tyre Nichols, an African American man who died after being brutally beaten by police, with civil rights leaders Al Sharpton leading the high-profile service attended by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Speaking over a flower-bedecked coffin at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, preachers recalled a young man who loved photography and skateboarding, and demanded justice for Mr Nichols and an end to police violence against black people.

The relatives of other black people killed by police in cities across the United States came to offer comfort to the Nichols' family, including a woman from Texas whose son was killed by a Houston police officer, who sang before a gospel choir.

Ms Harris flew to Memphis and embraced Mr Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, in the pews before addressing the congregation.

"This is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe," Ms Harris said. "Tyre Nichols should have been safe."

Rev Al Sharpton and US Vice President Kamala Harris at the funeral service of Tyre Nichols

Mr Nichols died on 10 January in a hospital from injuries he sustained three days earlier when beaten by Memphis police who pulled him over while he was driving home, an incident that Ben Crump, an attorney for the family, has branded a "police lynching".

The Memphis Police Department fired five of the officers, who also are black.

Prosecutors charged them last week with second-degree murder, assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and oppression.

The civil rights leader Rev. Sharpton, who has often spoken at the funerals of victims of police brutality, decried the five officers as "thugs" and traitors to their race as he eulogised Nichols in the city where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

"You didn't get on the police department by yourself," Rev. Sharpton said as the congregation clapped and shouted. "People had to march and go to jail and some lost their lives to open the doors for you, and how dare you act like that sacrifice was for nothing?"

Two other officers implicated in the events leading to Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr Nichols when he attempted to flee.

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

The chief of police, Cerelyn Davis, has called the conduct seen in the video "inhumane" and said investigators have not substantiated that Mr Nichols was driving recklessly when he was pulled over, as arresting officers asserted at the time.

President Joe Biden, who also spoke with the victim's mother, described himself as "outraged and deeply pained" by the footage of the beating.

He plans to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus at the White House tomorrow to discuss police reform legislation and other priorities, according to a White House spokesperson.

Civil rights advocates and lawyers for the Nichols' family have condemned the beating as the latest case of a black person brutalised by a racially biased law enforcement system that disproportionately targets people of colour, even when officers involved are not white.

Among the mourners today were relatives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, two African Americans whose deaths at the hands of police sparked protests in 2020 against racism and police brutality.

Mr Nichols grew up in Sacramento, California, and moved to Memphis early in the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. He had a four-year-old son and took a daily supper break from his FedEx job to join his stepfather and co-worker for meals at his home.

Antonio Romanucci, another lawyer for his family, has said Mr Nichols also was a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it was a cause for which he gave his life, "and essentially what that makes him is a martyr".