Tire Nichols video release sparks protests, outrage, inquiries and tears
Protests and public outrage erupted across the country Friday night after the Memphis Police Department released footage showing the deadly interaction between officers and Tire Nichols.
Nichols, 29, was stopped by police in Memphis, Tennessee on January 7. After the confrontation with law enforcement, which included beatings of some of the officers involved in his detention, Nichols was hospitalized for his injuries and died three days later.
The footage released on Friday was made up of four separate videos, including footage from police body cameras and footage from a mast camera.
Protesters gather across the country
Several cities staged protests on Friday night in response to the release of the footage. In Memphis, protesters blocked traffic on Interstate 55 along the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge, according to a report by the WATN reporter Stephen Pimpo. WHBQ Journalist Kayla Solomon also captured video of protesters marching through downtown Memphis, chanting “this whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
In New York City, crowds filled the streets of Times Square on Friday night, holding signs and blocking traffic. WABC Correspondent This Faan Kim posted a video on Twitter showing part of the crowd listening to a speaker at the protest, saying, “They don’t give a damn about us.”
The protests have spread from coast to coast, according to a report by KGO TVwho posted a video of crowds marching through the streets of San Francisco, California, holding signs and chanting “This racist system, shut it down.”
Sheriff announces further investigations
Further investigations into law enforcement’s response to Nichols’ detention were also launched on Friday after the footage emerged. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner posted a statement on Twitter, saying two deputies from his office who appeared at the scene after the “physical confrontation” between police and Nichols had been “removed from duty.”
“Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I am concerned about two deputies who appeared at the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tire Nichols,” Bonner said in the statement. “I have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of these MPs to determine what happened and whether any policies were violated.”
John Morris, public information officer for the Shelby Sheriff’s Office, said Newsweek Friday that the deputies in question appear towards the end of one of the videos following the physical confrontation, adding that the office opened an investigation “immediately”.
The five officers involved in Nichols’ initial traffic stop were fired by the Memphis Police Department last week and face a slew of charges, including second-degree murder.
Nichols’ death is being investigated separately by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and the FBI.
CNN previously reported that two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” were also relieved of their duties, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Memphis Council Chairman: “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”
Several local politicians also spoke out after the police footage emerged, including Memphis City Council Speaker Martavius Jones, who broke down in tears while speaking to CNN.
“We, we have to do something,” Jones told the network. “It’s not that we were immune to anything, but it wasn’t supposed to happen in our community.”
“It’s a traffic stop,” Jones continues through broken sentences. “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.”
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted that the released footage of Nichols’ detention “is hard to watch,” adding that his office is in contact with local and federal law enforcement.
“I am confident that the Memphis Police Department and the State of Tennessee will conduct a thorough investigation,” Blackburn wrote.
Several law enforcement agencies have also come forward. Commissioner of the New York Police Department Keechant Sewell said in a statement that “the NYPD and the communities we serve are collectively outraged” by Nichols’ death.
Chief of the Atlanta Police Department Darin Schierbaum also released a statement, saying the videos “showed multiple failures by these officers to handle this situation professionally or competently.”
“The actions of these officers have severely affected law enforcement relationships with our communities, coast to coast,” Schierbaum added.
Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement Friday that Nichols “should have gone home with his family.”
“Yet once again, America mourns the life of a son and a father brutally cut short by those sworn to protect and to serve,” the vice president added.