Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death
The image from video released on January 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols on the ground as medics arrive during a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers on January 7, 2023, in Memphis, Tennessee Nichols died on January 10. The five officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. (City of Memphis via AP)
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday of the violent beating of Tyre Nichols in which officers held the Black motorist down and struck him repeatedly as he screamed for his mother.
The video emerged one day after the officers, who are all Black, were charged with murder in Nichols’ death.
The footage shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes while screaming profanities at him throughout the attack. The Nichols family legal team has likened the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
“I’m going to baton the (expletive) out you,” one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Nichols.
After the first officer roughly pulls Nichols out of his car, Nichols can be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything,” as a group of officers begins to wrestle him to the ground.
“Get on the ground!,” one officer yells, as another is heard yelling “Tase him! Tase him!”
Nichols calmly replied soon after being wrestled to the pavement, “OK, I’m on the ground.” Moments later, as the officers continue to yell, Nichols says, “Man, I am on the ground.”
An officer yells, “Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive).” Moments later, an officer yells, “(Expletive), put your hands behind your back before I break them.”
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols says loudly to the officers. “I’m just trying to go home.”
“Stop, I’m not doing anything” he yells moment later.
The camera is briefly obscured and then Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then start chasing Nichols.
After the beating, officers milled about for several minutes while Nichols lay propped up against the car, then slumped onto the street.
Cities across the country braced for large demonstrations. Nichols’ relatives urged supporters to protest peacefully.
“This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrorised. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know … acted in concert with each other,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents Nichols’ family.
The officers “acted together … to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,” Romanucci said.
Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis described the officers’ actions as “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” and said that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.
She told The Associated Press in an interview that there is no video of the traffic stop that shows Nichols recklessly driving.
During the initial stop, the video shows the officers were “already ramped up, at about a 10,” she said. The officers were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and probably scared Mr. Nichols from the very beginning.”
“We know something happened prior to this officer or these officers getting out of their vehicles … Just knowing the nature of officers, it takes something to get them amped up, you know, like that. We don’t know what happened,” she said.
“All we know is the amount of force that was applied in this situation was over the top,” Davis said.
Given the likelihood of protests, Davis told ABC that she and other local officials decided it would be best to release the video later in the day, after schools are dismissed and people are home from work.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace.
“I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said Thursday. “If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”
Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden said Friday that he was “very concerned” about the prospect of violence and called for protests to remain peaceful.
Relatives have accused police of causing Nichols to have a heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities have said only that Nichols experienced a medical emergency.