The city of Memphis has released the footage showing the January 7 traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols.
There are four videos in total that were released to the public: three body cam videos from the officers and an overhead video from a police camera on a pole. In the overhead video, you can see the violence clearly. After a brief pursuit, the officers handcuffed and restrained Nichols. The officers then proceed to kick and beat Nichols with a baton, striking the 29-year-old repeatedly over the head. Making things more jarring is the officers who watched and did nothing as he lay on the ground in agony. In the body cam footage, which featured sound, you could hear Nichols calling for his mother, similar to the May 2020 arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After a delayed response from EMT workers, he would be taken to the hospital. He later died of his injuries on January 10.
The video was released at around 6pm central time. It came as public officials warned of the graphic nature of the video. During a press conference to the public on Friday morning, Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis referenced the 1991 footage of Rodney King being beaten by the LAPD, saying “I would say it’s about the same, if not worse.”
“You’re going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement… Individuals watching will feel what the family felt. And if you don’t, then you’re not a human being. And we all are human beings. And I think there will be a measure of sadness, as well.”On Thursday (January 26), five of the Memphis police officers in the video were charged in the death of Nichols. This came a week after the officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith — were fired and found to be “directly responsible for the physical abuse of Mr. Nichols,” according to the MPD.
After the video was released protestors in Memphis could be seen gathering in the downtown area. Protests and demonstrations are expected throughout the country.
During a vigil on Thursday, Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, asked demonstrators to “protest in peace.”
“I don’t want us burning up our cities, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said. “And if you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”
This story was updated on January 27th.
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