Tyre Nichols video: Body cam footage showing brutal police beating by 5 Memphis police officers released
- Authorities released footage Friday evening showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols on January 7.
- The five officers involved in the beating have since been fired and charged with murder.
Content note: This story describes police brutality, death, and contains graphic videos.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The Memphis Police Department released disturbing footage Friday evening showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, who at times could be heard calling out for his mother as police continuously punched and kicked him until he was unresponsive.
The violent footage, from police body cameras and stationary cameras, was released on the department's Vimeo page and set off immediate civil unrest in Memphis and other cities.
"You guys are really doing a lot right now," Nichols is heard saying to the officers at the start of the videos, which were released in four parts. "I'm just trying to go home."
The beating occurred during a traffic stop in Memphis' Hickory Hill neighborhood on January 7. Nichols, who was 29, died of his injuries three days later. Authorities said Nichols had been stopped by the officers and accused of reckless driving, but Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis has since said the department has not found proof to substantiate the reckless driving allegation.
Memphis officials and others with access to the video had warned the public of the gruesome nature of the footage in advance of its release on Friday.
What the videos showed
The first video released by police shows the initial struggle. An officer approaching Nichols' car tells him to "get the fuck out of the fucking car." Nichols responds that he didn't do anything, and the officer pulls him out of the car and throws him to the ground, saying "I'm gonna tase your ass." After Nichols stands up and struggles with the officer, the officer deploys his Taser, and Nichols runs away. An officer can be heard saying, "I hope they stomp his ass."
The second video, taken from the street, shows some of the more violent moments of the encounter after police have chased down Nichols. One officer takes Nichols to the ground while another knees him in the torso. As the first two officers bring him to the ground, they continue to punch and knee him, and a third officer walks up, pauses to swing his leg, and kicks Nichols in the head.
Officers eventually stand a woozy Nichols up, while one officer appears to hit him with a baton. Another officer punches him hard in the head four times, causing Nichols to fall back to the ground. Then, the five cops surround Nichols, kneeling on and kicking him. Several officers take turns beating him in this sequence.
More officers arrive on the scene as Nichols can be seen slumped over and falling to the side in pain. One officer can be seen smoking a cigarette. Nichols then appears to be non-responsive and motionless. In the last five minutes of the video, an EMT attempts to provide care to Nichols.
Video three, which was taken from body camera footage, begins after Nichols initially fled and is already on the ground. The officer with the body camera immediately runs up and joins the beating in progress. Nichols cries "mom" several times, and tries to placate officers by saying "alright, alright," repeatedly. Additional officers are seen pulling up to the scene and running up to the scuffle and appearing to join in on the violence.
The officer with the body camera turns back while the beating intensifies and says, "I'm gonna baton the fuck outcha," and strikes Nichols. Nichols can be seen being struck in the head several times, crying for his mother, before his speech slurs and he is no longer coherent, just whimpering and saying "alright." Officers chit-chat about spraying themselves with pepper spray in the scuffle.
Body camera footage in the fourth video goes dark, obscuring the interaction between the officers and Nichols. Nichols can only be heard screaming "Mom" multiple times before his voice reduces to groans. Footage later shows Nichols, injured with blood on his face, propped up against a vehicle, as officers around him discuss what happened. One officer says, "he's on something." Another officer said, "He definitely high." Others say he attempted to swing at them or that he reached for his gun. The officers turn their attention to Nichols, whose eyes are closed. They attempt to help him sit up as paramedics arrive.
The city braces for unrest
Prior to the video release, protesters were already gathering at Martyr Park in the city's downtown. They said they weren't waiting for the videos to reveal what happened because they already knew enough. On social media, some chose to counteract the expected brutality of the footage with images they said were from Nichols' life. One poster shared a video of Nichols skateboarding, saying they hoped the footage would be amplified amid the violence of the video.
—Mai Perkins✨TWNE ✍✨ (@FlyMai16) January 26, 2023
The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation called the video "absolutely appalling." Davis, the Memphis police chief, said what he saw was "heinous, reckless, and inhumane." And an attorney representing Nichols' family said the officers beat Nichols like "a human piñata."
Nichols' family pleaded for peaceful protests at a press conference earlier on Friday.
The five police officers seen in the footage were fired from the Memphis Police Department and later charged with second-degree murder. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith also face charges of kidnapping, official misconduct, and oppression.
All five officers were booked into the Shelby County jail on Thursday and have since been released on bond.
This breaking news story will be updated.
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