Memphis officials released video Friday evening of a 7 January traffic stop that descended into the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black motorist.
The disturbing video footage, which was released in several parts, sheds light on the fatal events. In one video, which is from a police body camera, Nichols can be heard crying out “mom” as he was on the ground with officers surrounding him.
Some of the chaotic footage shows officers punching and kicking Nichols. One officer shouted that he would “baton the fuck outta you”.
The video footage also shows the beginning of Nichols’ encounter with police. “Get the fuck out of the car!” one officer shouted several times.
Nichols replied “I didn’t do anything” as they shout “get on the fucking ground”. One of the officers involved in the stop yelled “Tase him!” Nichols ran from the officers; the fatal beating unfolded when officers later apprehended him.
In Memphis, but also across the rest of the US, officials had called for calm in the face of anticipated protests following the release of the video, which was expected to be graphic and brutal.
Joe Biden had urged for peaceful demonstrations, while acknowledging the deep anger stoked by the attack, saying: “Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all.”
The five former Memphis police officers involved in the fatal encounter were charged on Thursday with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression in the death of Nichols, who succumbed to his injuries on 10 January.
“While each of the five individuals played a different role in the incident in question, the actions of all of them resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols and they are all responsible,” Steve Mulroy, the Shelby county district attorney, told reporters on Thursday.
Police officials initially claimed that a “confrontation” unfolded when officers approached Nichols’s vehicle, followed by another “confrontation” upon his arrest.
The five officers, who are Black – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – were fired last week.
The Memphis police department said the men broke “multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid”.
The city’s police chief, CJ Davis, described the deadly incident as “heinous, reckless, and inhumane”.
“Aside from being your chief of police, I am a citizen of this community we share,” Davis remarked in a video. “I am a mother, I am a caring human being who wants the best for all of us.”
“This is not just a professional failing. This is a failing of basic humanity toward another individual … and in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves.”
Nichols’s family members and their attorneys viewed the video earlier this week. One attorney said that Nichols was attacked for 3min.
The family’s legal team reportedly said an independent autopsy showed that Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”.
“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” one family attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said to reporters. “Not only was it violent, it was savage.”
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney on the family’s legal team, said, “Tyre was brutalized by Memphis police, much like how Rodney King was beaten more than 30 years ago – but unlike Rodney, Tyre lost his life from this violent attack.”
The family’s lawyers reportedly stated that during the beatdown, which unfolded only about 100 yards from his mother’s home, Nichols called out for his mother.