The Memphis Police Department has released harrowing bodycam footage of five police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols following a traffic stop for purported reckless driving.
The video released on Friday night shows Nichols, 29, crying out for his mother multiple times during the brutal January 7 assault, which took place just a few blocks from his home.
‘Mom! Mom!’ screams Nichols as he is pinned to the ground by multiple officers, pepper sprayed in the face, and kicked and punched.
All five officers involved in the killing were charged with second-degree murder in killing Nichols, with the district attorney saying that though they all played different roles, ‘they are all responsible.’
Still, police across the nation are bracing for potential violent unrest in response to the graphic and highly disturbing footage.
The Memphis Police Department has released harrowing bodycam footage of five police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols
‘Mom! Mom!’ screams Nichols as he is pinned to the ground by multiple officers following a foot chase, pepper sprayed in the face, and kicked and punched
Another view from a nearby surveillance camera appears to show Nichols sitting unresponsive after the assault
Paramedics arrive on the scene as Nichols, handcuffed, appears unable to sit up on his own
The violent incident followed a brief foot foot chase after cops attempted to pull over Nichols in his car.
After being tasered by one of the cops, Nichols is tackled and held down by two officers, who repeatedly shout ‘give me your hands!’
Moments later, third cop arrives on foot and sprays pepper spray at Nichols, also hitting himself in the face.
The same officer then extends a telescoping baton, shouting, ‘I’m gonna baton the f*** out of him!’ It’s unclear from the footage whether the baton was actually used.
Two other cops also arrive at some point during the incident. Several of the officers are seen standing Nichols up as one swings punches at his face.
After Nichols is handcuffed, he appears to be unresponsive. Cops are heard cursing, wisecracking and ordering him to sit up as he slumps over onto the pavement.
The video released on Friday consists of more than an hour of footage, including video from three body-worn cameras and one surveillance camera mounted on a utility pole.
Nichols died in hospital on January 10, three days after being beaten by the officers, with those who have seen the footage comparing it to the video of Rodney King.
A bystander filmed LAPD officers beating King with batons in 1991, and their acquittal the following year sparked six days of rioting in Los Angeles as racial tensions boiled over.
In King’s case, the officers involved were white, while the five officers charged with murdering Nichols, a black man, are also black.
The violent incident followed a brief foot foot chase after cops attempted to pull over Nichols in his car
After being tasered by one of the cops, Nichols is tackled and held down by two officers, who repeatedly shout ‘give me your hands!’
Moments later, third cop arrives on foot and sprays pepper spray at Nichols, also hitting himself in the face
Nevertheless, authorities across the country were bracing for potential violence in response to the gruesome body-camera footage – with increased security surrounding Capitol Hill and police from Los Angeles to New York saying they are monitoring the situation.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp activated the National Guard after declaring a state of emergency in Atlanta, calling in 1,000 guardsmen to maintain the peace.
Earlier Friday, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the footage is the worst she has witnessed in her career.
‘We are going to see acts that defy humanity, a disregard for life, duty of care and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,’ she said Friday morning.
Tyre Nichols is pictured in hospital after the incident. The 29-year-old from Memphis died on January 10 from cardiac arrest and kidney failure, three days after he was pulled over for reckless driving by police in unmarked cars
Charged with second degree murder are (top, left to right) Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, and (bottom, left to right) Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith
TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN NICHOLS’ DEATH
January 7: Police pull over Tyre Nichols on suspicion of reckless driving at 8.30pm. Tyre fled on foot after a ‘confrontation’ but was apprehended by cops soon after.
An ambulance was called to the scene after Tyre complained of shortness of breath, and was transferred to hospital in a critical condition.
January 10: Three days after the stop Tyre, 29, died from his injuries sustained in the incident. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that they were looking into his death.
January 15: Five officers are relieved of duty while the investigation into their use of force continues. Preliminary findings indicate the serious nature of the offences. All of the officers were given a notice regarding the impeding administrative actions.
January 18: The Department of Justice announces that a civil rights investigation has been opened into the death of Tyre.
January 20: Memphis Police Department identifies, and fires five offices involved in the traffic stop, due to their violation of multiple department polices.
Officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr, and Justin Smith’s jobs were terminated for failing in their ‘excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid’.
Two Memphis Fire Department employees who were part of Nichols’ ‘initial patient care’ were also fired.
January 23: The family of Tyre Nichols and their attorney, Ben Crump, view the footage of his arrest for the first time. Crump compares it to the assault of Rodney King by LAPD officers in 1991.
January 26: All five officers are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression.
January 27: Four of the former officers each paid bond of $250,000 each to be released after their arrest. Body-cam footage of the assault is released.
The police chief also revealed there is ‘no proof’ that Tyre was driving recklessly when he was pulled over.
David added: ‘It is about human dignity, integrity, accountability and the duty to protect. As this video will show – it doesn’t matter whose wearing the uniform.’
Four of the five Memphis Police officers charged in the death of Tyre have been released on a combined $1million bond after being arrested yesterday.
Justin Smith, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Tadarrius Bean were released from Shelby County Jail, according to court records.
Demetrius Haley is still in jail with a $350,000 bond after all five were charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
Shelby County District attorney Steve Mutlroy said Tyre was left ‘bloody and bruised’ after he was pepper sprayed and beaten just yards from his home.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police.
All five were fired last Friday for violation of police procedure, with city officials saying they were notified on January 15.
Davis said the cops were ‘amped up’ when they stopped Tyre, with two of the officers from a special team designed to stop street crime.
Speaking to CNN, Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells said her son was ‘beat like a piñata’.
‘Yes, he cried out for me, because I’m his mother. He was trying to get home to safety. He was a mamma’s boy,’ she said through tears.
‘He loves me to death. He has my name tattooed on his arm. He had Crohn’s disease, and he had surgery in 2013.
‘I told my husband my stomach is hurting so bad, and once I found out what happened, it was just the fact that I was feeling my son’s pain.
‘I was feeling my son’s pain as they were beating him to death.’
RowVaughn said that she feels sorry for the officers involved in her son’s death, admitting she has not had time to properly grieve.
‘They brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the black community’, she said.
‘I don’t hate anybody. That’s not in my nature, I just feel sorry for them because they did something horrendous.’
RowVaughn also told CNN host Don Lemon that she was unable to view the footage, leaving Tyre’s step-father, Rodney Wells to watch the ‘horrific’ footage.
Tyre Nichols, 29, died in hospital on January 10, three days after a traffic stop that ended with him being severely injured
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks at a news conference with the family of Tyre Nichols on Thursday
MDP’s SCORPION unit faces calls to disband
At least some of the officers charged with murdering Nichols were members of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION team, a street crime unit deployed to crime hot spots and intended to prevent violence.
SCORPION, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods, was created in October 2021 in response to soaring violent crime.
There are 40 officers in the unit, divided into four teams. Each team has members focused on car theft, gang investigations and ‘crime suppression.’
Some members wear plainclothes and drive unmarked cars.
Lawyers for Nichols’ family have called on for SCORPION to be disbanded.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said such units can turn into ‘a pack of wolves.’
At least some of officers charged with murdering Nichols were members of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION team, a street crime unit deployed to crime hot spots and intended to prevent violence.
Lawyers for Nichols family have since called for the SCORPION team to be dismantled following the death of Nichols, a FedEx employee.
Antonio Romanucci said the ‘intent of the unit has now been corrupted’ and is calling for reviews on all of similar units across the country.
‘This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrorized. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know … acted in concert with each other,’ said Romanucci.
The officers ‘acted together … to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,’ he added.
He also branded the definition of the kidnapping charges the officers face as implying a crime of ‘terrorism’.
Aggravated kidnapping is when the crime is committed to facilitate any other felony, it interferes with governmental function, it is intended to seriously injure or terrorize the victim, inflict bodily injury on the victim or possess or threaten to use a deadly weapon.
Romanucci also called for police unions to speak out supporting the arrests of the five officers, adding: ‘When you think of 9/11, what’s the word that comes to mind? Terrorism.’
‘When you think of other heinous acts that have happened in churches across this country, any act of terrorism, what does that instill in you?
‘That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition that we are dealing with here on this kidnapping charge. It is terrorism. It was designed to terrorize the victim.’
President Biden urged for calm before the video release, saying: ‘Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice’
Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who also represents the family, addressed several issues during a press conference at Mount Olive Baptist Church.
He said that the arrest of the five officers should be the ‘blueprint’ going forward in America when a police officer commits a crime and praised Police Chief Davis for her ‘swift justice’.
Crump said: He said: ‘We applaud the DA for bringing these charges. Let me be exceedingly clear on this point.
‘When we look at how these five black officers who were caught on camera committing a crime, and when we look at how fast the police chief and the department terminated them, and how swiftly the DA brought charges against them – in less than 20 days – we want to proclaim this as the blueprint going forward.
‘Any time any officers, whether black or white, are held accountable, you can no longer tell us that we have to wait six months to a year when we have a video of excessive force.
‘No more can you tell us that. With these five black officers, you are moving swiftly, and as the chief said, it was important for the community that they took swift action,’ he said.
Crump spoke at a press conference on Friday, ahead of the graphic body cam footage of Tyre being beaten to death by the officers being released by authorities at 7pm EST
Crump continued: ‘When it is a white officer, it is also important that there is swift action. We won’t let black officers be treated differently than white officers
‘We have the blueprint now America, and we won’t accept anything less in the future – there will be equal justice under the law.
‘We now have a precedent that has been set here in Memphis, and we intend to hold this blueprint for all of America on this day forth.’
Mulroy, the district attorney, said that investigators had wanted to complete as many interviews as possible before making the footage public. Nichols’ family members viewed the video Monday.
Anticipating strong reaction to the footage, 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 warned supporters of the ‘horrific’ nature of the video but pleaded for for protests to remain peaceful following its release.
‘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.’
Davis also urged calm after the video´s release, saying: ‘None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.’
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said that the video of the attack on Nichol’s was the worst of her career
People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols at the Tobey Skate Park on January 26 in Memphis
David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, described the video as ‘absolutely appalling.’
He said: ‘Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong, and this was criminal.’
In addition to the five officers charged Thursday, Davis said in the statement that other officers also are under investigation.
Two Memphis Fire Department personnel also have been relieved of duty pending an investigation.
President Biden has also called for calm ahead of the release of the video – adding: ‘Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.’
He said: ‘As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest.
‘Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.’
‘Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.
‘We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted black and brown people.’
Developing story, more to follow.
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