Tyre Nichols’ Brutal Beating by Memphis Police Revealed in Video

On Friday, Memphis officials released video of the fatal encounter between Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, and local cops earlier this month. Even by the standards of a country with a long legacy of police violence, the footage was breathtaking in its brutality.

The video provides at least some detail on the events leading up to Nichols’ tragic death, which quickly led to the firing of five cops—all Black men—who attacked him, and their being charged with murder on Thursday.

What the video shows is that the alleged murder started as an ostensible traffic stop. But cops used a taser on a clearly nonviolent—and compliant—Nichols almost immediately. Footage from another officer shows police unloading pepper spray onto him as he lies on the ground, screaming for his mother.

In one video, body camera lens is covered but Nichols can be heard screaming for his mother over five times, as police yell, “Give me your fucking hands!” One officer screams “I’m going to baton the fuck out of you!”

Along with the violence, a desperate Nichols screaming for his mother is perhaps the defining element of the footage.

For weeks, Memphis officials have declined to disclose details of the incident. But as information began to leak out through family members and others, officials—from the local chief of police to President Joe Biden—have scrambled to call for calm as they braced for public outcry on par with the George Floyd protests of 2020.

“When that tape comes out tomorrow, it’s gonna be horrific, but I want each and every one of you to protest in peace,” Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, told the crowd at a prayer vigil Thursday night. “And if you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”

Nichols—who had moved to Tennessee from California—has been described by friends as a goofy, optimistic and “deeply loving” father who cared about social-justice issues and had even pondered entering the police force himself to make a change.

So when some of his friends heard initial reports from Memphis police that he had been involved in two “confrontations” with cops and was hospitalized after a traffic stop on Jan. 7, they were shocked.

“He’s not confrontational in that sense. He cries, like, when he gets upset. He may get mad, he wants to be tough, but he starts tearin’ up,” said Kristopher Volker, a longtime friend, calling him a “lover” not a “fighter.”

“What happened was he was just trying to go to his mom,” Volker told The Daily Beast on Tuesday night. “And he, you know, that’s all he was trying to do even, like, 80 meters from his mom’s house.”

Former Memphis cops Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were arrested and charged on Thursday for murder and kidnapping, with the local district attorney indicating they were responsible for Nichols’ death. At least one officer, Haley, had been previously accused of excessive force while he worked as a corrections officer in 2016.

The officers were part of the fairly new, so-called SCORPION unit of the police department meant to crack down on violence in the city. But since Nichols’ death, the units have been inactive, according to reporting by Fox 13. And in a taped message on Wednesday night, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis called for an independent review of the units.

Two unnamed fire department personnel involved have also been relieved of duty in connection with the tragedy.

At a Friday morning press conference, Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells said, “The family is very satisfied with the process, with the police chief, with the D.A.”

But this week, Chief Cerelyn Davis called the video possibly worse than the beating of Rodney King, and alluded to an ongoing investigation of more officers on the scene.

“For a mother to know that their child was calling them in their need, and I wasn’t there for him….” RowVaughn Wells said on Friday morning. “Do you know how I feel right now because I wasn’t there for my son?”

Source link

Leave a Comment