Several video clips of Memphis police officers beating Tyre Nichols’ to a pulp and the aftermath were released Friday evening.
The anticipated video release, which had the nation on edge, comes a day after five Memphis police officers accused of beating Nichols were indicted on multiple charges, including second-degree murder.
The footage released by the City of Memphis came in four parts totaling nearly an hour. The officers initiated the traffic stop by pulling Nichols out of the car through the driver’s side door.
“Get on the f—–g ground,” the officers yelled as one of them pressed a taser onto Nichols’ leg.
Nichols can be heard saying, “you guys are really doing a lot right now, I just want to go home.”
The officers then pepper sprayed Nichols and attempted to tase him, but he still managed to run away.
The officers pursued Nichols to a nearby intersection in a residential area. When they caught up to Nichols minutes later, the shaky bodycam video shows Nichols lying on a street sidewalk with at least two of the officers pinning him down to the ground.
The violent apprehension continues as Nichols is grabbed by two of the officers while two others punched him repeatedly on his torso and head area. The officers appeared to take turns beating Nichols during the assault. At one point, one of the officers circles Nichols while he is on the floor.
Throughout the assault, Nichols can be heard screaming in agony. “Mom!,”, Nichols can be heard calling for his mother multiple times as the officers punch, pull and pepper spray him. The screams are eerily similar to George Floyd’s last moments as officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck.
“Gimme your hands. Give me your f—ing,” one officer yells repeatedly.
After about three minutes of physically assaulting Nichols, a swarm of other Memphis police officers arrives at the scene as things begin to deescalate. The officers gathered after the beating, some with labored breath, another limping, and recall their escapade with a few laughs.
“They are all responsible,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Thursday during a news conference.
Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr. and Justin Smith were all charged with second-degree murder after they severely beat Nichols during the Jan. 7 traffic stop. The officers were also charged with aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and official oppression.
The officers were booked into the Shelby County Jail. Martin and Haley received $350,000 bonds, while Mills, Bean and Smith received $250,000 bonds. They have all since bonded out of jail, WHBQ reports.
“In a word, it’s absolutely appalling. Let me be clear, what happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch said.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis described the video as “alarming” during a CNN interview.
“I was outraged, and it was incomprehensible to me. I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything that bad in my entire career,” Davis said.
During a Jan. 27 news conference, attorney Ben Crump said, “We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for anytime any officers, whether they be Black or white, will be held accountable,” referring to the swift action taken against the accused Black officers.
Blake Ballin and Bill Massey are attorneys representing Martin and Mills. They confirmed the two officers were members of the Memphis police SCORPION Unit. The unit was launched in 2021 and is made up of 50 officers. The officers include crime suppression officers who “patrol crime hot spot areas,” WMC reported.
“We are starting to think about potential defenses. Mills is known as a gentle, respectful father and family man,” Ballin said during a news conference describing his client.
“Anytime a police officer is going to jail, it’s a traumatic moment,” Massey said.
“This young man lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop. This tragedy meets the absolute definition of a needless and unnecessary death,” Crump said in a statement.
Two unidentified EMTs who were part of Nichols’ “initial patient care” have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The video shows the emergency personnel arriving on the scene in video 2, but standing around while a handcuffed Nichols is writhing on the ground.
In a statement released on Jan. 27, the Memphis Fire Department said it expects to conclude its investigation next week.
As the video was released, many community and state officials worried about violent protests.
President Joe Biden said, “I join with Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest. Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.”
On the eve of the video release, a community vigil was held at Tobey Skatepark to remember Nichols, who loved skateboarding.
Nichols’ funeral is scheduled for Feb. 1, and he will be eulogized by Rev. Al Sharpton, CNN reported.