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‘He Was a Human Piñata’: Video of Tyre Nichols’ Deadly Police Beating Revealed In Private Release; Compared to Rodney King

The family of a Memphis man who died after a traffic stop saw the video showing the final moments of his life two weeks after his death.

Memphis police shared body-camera footage with Tyre Nichols’ family and attorneys in a private viewing on Monday.

“They murdered him,” Tyre Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said.

Members of Nichols’ family were joined by attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci for a news conference moments after seeing video of the 29-year-olds’ deadly police encounter.

“What I saw on the video today was horrific. No father or mother should have to witness what I witnessed today,” Tyre Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells said.

While attorneys and Nichols’ family did not reveal graphic details of the video, Crump said Nichols could be heard calling for his mom three times before the police encounter ended. He also compared the incident to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in California.

“It’s not the race of the police officer that is the determinable factor of the amount of excessive force that will be exerted. It is the race of the citizen,” Crump said.

“All my son was trying to do was get home. He was two minutes away when they stopped him,” RowVaughn Wells said.

Rodney Wells also disputed claims his son had drugs or a weapon when he encountered police.

“Our son ran because he was scared for his life. When you see the video, you’ll see why he was scared for his life, and he was trying to get home to his mother and father,” Wells said.

Five Memphis police officers were fired on Jan. 20 after an internal investigation found culpability in the death of Nichols.

“He was a human piñata for those police officers,” Romanucci said.

Police said Nichols was involved in a traffic stop on Jan. 7 around 8:30 p.m. Nichols was reportedly pulled over for reckless driving. The officers approached Nichols’ vehicle, and a “confrontation” occurred. Nichols then fled the traffic stop on foot before the officers followed him, leading to a second “confrontation” prior to finally apprehending him. Police did not reveal specifics on what the “confrontation” entailed.

After being detained, Nichols complained of having “shortness of breath.” He was then taken to the hospital by ambulance, where he was listed in critical condition.

Tyre Nichols is in the hospital with his face bruised and swollen after a violent arrest by Memphis police officers. (Photo: Twitter/Bowerydoll)

Nichols died on Jan. 10. A viral photo of him lying in a hospital bed with a bruised and swollen face showed the aftermath of his encounter with police.

Crump said there is no official cause of death at this time, but an independent autopsy is underway to reveal how Nichols died.

Crump said local authorities plan to publicly release video of Nichols’ police encounter within one to two weeks.

The fired officers are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith. The officers violated multiple department policies, including excessive force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid, the department said in a statement.

Since Nichols’ death, his family has demanded transparency from the Memphis Police Department in protests and memorial services.

While no lawsuits have been filed at this time, Romanucci said a federal civil rights lawsuit will be filed soon for Nichols’ death.

“My son was a good boy. He liked to skateboard,” RowVaughn Wells said of her son.

Tyre Nichols died on Jan. 10, 2023, following a violent arrest by five Memphis police officers. (Photo: Twitter/BenCrump)

“He didn’t deserve what he got. Now he deserves justice,” Rodney Wells said.

Nichols’ death has shaken the Memphis community as activists, community leaders and the local skateboarding community reacted.

Memphis-based skateboarders skated outside the city hall as Nichols’ family watched the video footage.

A Twitter user made the unconfirmed claim that local businesses are “buying unrest insurance” as the community awaits public release of the video.

“Police brutality is unacceptable no matter who is a victim and no matter who the officers are in so I’m happy that they acted decisively in quickly and I hope they sent a straw messaged that police brutality is unacceptable,” Tennessee state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said.

“We’re going to get justice for Tyre even if that’s the last breath I take,” RowVaughn Wells said to applause during the news conference.

Nichols’ death is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.

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