Authorities release video showing police beating Tire Nichols to death
Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage on Friday of the brutal beating of Tire Nichols in which officers restrained the black motorist and beat him repeatedly as he screamed for his mother .
The video emerged a day after the officers, who are all black, were charged with murder in Nichols’ death.
Footage shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes while shouting profanities at him throughout the attack. The Nichols family’s legal team compared the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.
“I’m going to hit you (expletive),” an officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raising his baton while at least one other officer holds Nichols.
After the co-driver shoves Nichols out of his car, Nichols can be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything,” as a group of officers begin to tackle him to the ground.
“Get on the ground!” shouts one officer, while another shouts “Tase it! Taste it!
Nichols calmly replied shortly after being wrestled to the curb, “OK, I’m on the ground.” Moments later, as the officers continue to shout, Nichols says, “Man, I’m on the ground.”
An officer shouts, “Put your hands behind your back before I break you (expletive).” Moments later, an officer shouts, “(Expletive), put your hands behind your back before I break them.”
“You’re really doing a lot right now,” Nichols said aloud to the officers. “I’m just trying to get home.”
“Stop, I’m not doing anything” he shouts a moment later.
The camera is blacked out briefly, and then Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then begin to pursue Nichols.
After the beating, officers circled for several minutes as Nichols leaned against the car, then collapsed in the street.
Cities across the country braced for large protests. Those close to Nichols have urged supporters to protest peacefully.
“This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrified. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers that we now know… acted in concert with each other,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents Nichols’ family.
The officers “acted together … to inflict damage, terrorism, oppression of freedom, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,” Romanucci said.
Memphis Police Superintendent Cerelyn Davis described the officers’ actions as ‘abhorrent, reckless and inhumane’ and said her department was unable to prove the reckless driving allegation that prompted the arrest. interpellation.
She told The Associated Press in an interview that there was no video of the traffic stop that shows Nichols driving recklessly.
During the initial shutdown, the video shows the officers were “already reinforced, at about 10”, she said. The officers were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and likely scared off Mr. Nichols from the start”.
“We know something happened before that officer or officers got out of their vehicles… Just knowing the nature of the officers, it takes something to turn them on, you know, like that. We don’t know what happened,” she said.
“All we know is that the force applied in this situation was overkill,” 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 close and people return from the work.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace.
“I don’t want us burning down our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said Thursday. “If you are there for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”
Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden said on Friday he was “very concerned” about the prospect of violence and called for the protests to remain peaceful.
Biden said he spoke with Nichols’ mother earlier today and told her he was going to “present a case” to Congress to pass the George Floyd Act “to get this under control” . The legislation, which has been blocked, aims to address police misconduct and excessive force and bolster federal and state accountability efforts.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was “appalled” by the video and that all FBI field agents have been alerted to work with state and local partners, including in Memphis, “just in case something would get out of hand”.
Court records showed the five former officers – Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith – were arrested.
The officers each face charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Four of the five officers had posted bond and were released Friday morning, according to court and jail records.
Martin’s attorney, William Massey, and Mills’ attorney, Blake Ballin, said their clients would plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley could not be reached.
“Nobody there that night had any intention of putting Tire Nichols to death,” Massey said.
Second degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.
Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, condemned the alleged actions of the Memphis officers.
“The event as described to us does not constitute legitimate police work or a traffic stop gone wrong. It is a felony assault under the guise of law,” Yoes said in a statement. communicated.
Rallies and demonstrations were scheduled for Friday night in Memphis, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Portland, Oregon and Washington.
New York Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, said he and other mayors around the country were briefed by the White House before the video was released, which he said would “cause pain and sadness in many of us”. This will make us angry.
Romanucci and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents Nichols’ family, called on the police chief to disband the department’s so-called scorpion unit focused on street crime.
Nichols “has always been an innocent victim,” Romanucci said Friday. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He got caught in a sting. This scorpion unit was designed to saturate under the guise of crime-fighting, and what it ended up doing instead was was to create an ongoing pattern and practice of bad behavior.
Davis said other officers are still being investigated for violations of department policy. In addition, she said, “a complete and independent review” will be carried out on the specialized units of the department, without giving more details.
Two firefighters were also dismissed.
As state and federal investigations continue, Davis pledged the “full cooperation” of the police department.
Crump said the video showed Nichols being shocked, pepper sprayed and restrained when he was arrested near his home. He was returning from a suburban park where he had taken pictures of the sunset.
Relatives accused police of causing Nichols to have a heart attack and kidney failure. Authorities said only that Nichols suffered a medical emergency.
—Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
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