Tyre Nichols was brutally beaten by cops while being held down and punched repeatedly as he pleaded for his mother in more than an hour of the video released by Memphis officials on Friday.
One day after the officers—all of whom are Black—were accused of murder in connection with the death of Nichols, the video surfaced.
The video shows officers brutally hitting the 29-year-old FedEx employee for three minutes while yelling obscenities at him. The legal team for the Nichols family has compared the assault to the notorious police beating of Los Angeles driver Rodney King in 1991.
The sound of one cop yelling, “I’m going to baton the (expletive) out of you,” can be heard. He can be seen raising his baton on his body camera as at least one other cop is holding Nichols.
Nichols can be heard repeating, “I didn’t do anything,” as a bunch of cops starts to drag him to the ground after the first officer roughhouses him out of his car.
One cop shouts, “Get on the ground!,” while another is heard, “Tase him! Tase him!”
Soon after being forced to the ground by force, Nichols responded coolly, “OK, I’m on the ground.” Later, as the police officers are still shouting, Nichols replies, “Man, I am on the ground.”
“Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive)!” shouts a policeman. A policeman cries, “(Expletive), put your hands behind your back before I break them,” a short while afterward.
Nichols yells angrily at the cops, “You guys are really doing a lot right now.” “I’m just trying to go home,” he says.
A little while later, he cries, “Stop! I’m not doing anything!”
After a brief moment when the camera is hidden, Nichols is shown sprinting as an officer uses a Taser on him. The police then begin to pursue Nichols.
After the beating, the police officers stood about talking for a time as Nichols leaned against the car before collapsing to the ground.
The nation’s cities prepared for sizable protests. Family members of Nichols asked supporters to demonstrate peacefully.
“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,” according to lawyer Antonio Romanucci, who is defending the family of Nichols.
According to Romanucci, the cops “acted together … to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder.”
The acts of the cops were deemed “heinous, reckless, and inhumane,” by Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis, who also claimed that her agency had been unable to prove the claim of reckless driving that had led to the stop.
She said in an interview with The Associated Press that there is no footage of the traffic stop that demonstrates Nichols driving carelessly.
The footage demonstrates that the cops were “already ramped up, at about a 10” at the initial stop, according to her. The police were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and probably scared Mr. Nichols from the very beginning.”
“We know something happened prior to this officer or these officers getting out of their vehicles … Just knowing the nature of officers, it takes something to get them amped up, you know, like that. We don’t know what happened,” she added.
“All we know is the amount of force that was applied in this situation was over the top,” according to Davis.
Davis told ABC that she and other local authorities felt it would be better to release the footage later in the day, when schools are out and people have gone home from work, given the potential of demonstrations.
RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Nichols, cautioned fans about the “horrific” content of the film while pleading for harmony.
“I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she noted Thursday. “If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”
President Joe Biden stated Friday during a speech at the White House that he was “very concerned” about the possibility of violence and urged peaceful protests.
Family members claim the cops were responsible for Nichols’ heart attack and renal failure. The only thing the authorities have mentioned is that Nichols had a medical emergency.