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  4. A video of Tyre Nichols being killed by police is due to be released Friday. Even the police chief says what it shows is 'heinous' and 'inhumane.'

A video of Tyre Nichols being killed by police is due to be released Friday. Even the police chief says what it shows is 'heinous' and 'inhumane.'

Sinéad Baker   

A video of Tyre Nichols being killed by police is due to be released Friday. Even the police chief says what it shows is 'heinous' and 'inhumane.'
  • Tyre Nichols' arrest video is shocking, the Memphis police chief warned the public.
  • Nichols died after 5 police officers beat him at a traffic stop, family attorneys said.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said she expects a strong reaction to the body cam footage of the January 7 arrest and beating of Tyre Nichols, who died three days later. The police department is preparing to release the video on Friday evening.

"This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves," Davis said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

"I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels, I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights, as our police offers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video."

Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was stopped by police at a traffic stop on January 7, and was beaten by officers for three minutes, attorneys for his family said. He died in the hospital three days later.

Davis explained to CNN's Don Lemon that the police department decided to release the footage on a Friday evening because it wouldn't be as disruptive to the public as it would if they had released it on a Wednesday afternoon.

"We think about the entire public, to tell you the truth," Davis said on CNN This Morning. "We thought about schools, we thought about business, and we felt like Friday afternoon, if there were individuals who decided they wanted to peacefully protest, at least other individuals would have gone home, schools would be out."

In the video, Tyre Nichols cries out for his mother as he's beaten by police, Davis said. She told CNN that the footage is as bad, "if not worse" than the 1991 footage of Rodney King being beaten by police, which caused days of riots across the city.

Nichols' family and their lawyers were allowed to privately view the body cam footage of Nichols' arrest, Memphis police said.

Ahead of the video's release on Friday, Nichols' mother, RowVaughn Wells, pleaded with parents not to allow their children to watch the "horrific" footage.

Attorneys for the officers have said in reports that nobody intended for Nichols to die.

On Friday, though, Attorney Antonio Romanucci told Insider that their actions were "designed to kill."

"When you see the video and you see the fact that they were taking free punches and kicks at someone who was restrained, they knew their actions were designed to kill," Romanucci told Insider at the Mt. Olive CME Church in Memphis. "Whether or not they knew they were going to kill them, that is not the law."

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, described the footage as shocking: "I'm sickened by what I saw. In a word, it's absolutely appalling."

The Memphis community is bracing for protests once the video is released this evening.

"Tonight will be one of the toughest nights we've ever experienced in this city, but we will get through," Memphis NAACP President Van Turner said at a news conference in Memphis Friday afternoon. "Let's stand together. Let's fight together."

Memphis police reaction

Five Memphis police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — were fired after the incident, and have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.

Davis, the police chief, said other officers were still under investigation "for departmental policy violations."

She said there should be "absolute accountability for those responsible for Tyre's death." She said she expects protests, but urged people to keep them peaceful.

"I expect our citizens to exercise their first amendment right to protest, to demand action and results, but we need to ensure our community is safe in this process," she said.

Davis also said that her department was complying with ongoing investigations.

"I promise full and complete cooperation from the Memphis police Department with the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office to determine the entire scope of facts that contributed to Tyre Nichols' death," she said.

On Friday, Businesses in downtown Memphis closed early in preparation for social unrest.

Some residents reported receiving alerts from community groups and their workplaces, urging them to stay out of the crowds.

Pastor Earle Fisher, a well-known local activist who has been apart of planning meetings with city officials about their response to the killing, said he worried the timing of the release would encourage people to come into Memphis for the weekend and change the dynamic of otherwise peaceful protests.

"But you probably could have minimized disruption if you released it on a Monday morning when people are at school and at work," he said.