Outrage as video shows Tyre Nichols beaten by officers before his death

US

Memphis Police has released bodycam footage showing the moment Tyre Nichols called for his mother as he was beaten by five officers before he died.

The footage shows police beating the 29-year-old for three minutes while screaming profanities at him throughout the attack.

Police have released four separate videos cut into one hour-long clip, including police bodycam footage and footage from a CCTV camera.

Mr Nichols can be heard screaming “mom, mom” several times as the beating unfolds.

He was 80 yards (73 metres) from his family home, according to his mother.

Warning: This article contains violent images

Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis asked for calm before the video footage was made public.

“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights.”

Read more:
Arrest video is sickening indictment of policing that night

Five sacked officers, who are all black, have been charged with second-degree murder and other crimes, including assault, kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, over Mr Nichols’ death.

In the footage of the attack, one camera shows the initial police stop at an intersection in Memphis, Tennessee.

“I’m going to baton the f*** out of you,” one officer can be heard saying. His body camera shows him raise his baton while at least one other officer holds Mr Nichols.

After the first officer roughly pulls Mr Nichols out of his car just after 8:20pm on 7 January this year, the FedEx worker can be heard saying “I didn’t do anything” as a group of officers begins to wrestle him to the ground.

“Get on the ground!,” one officer yells, as another is heard shouting: “Tase him! Tase him!”

The father-of-one calmly replied soon after being wrestled to the pavement: “OK, I’m on the ground.”

Moments later, as the officers continue to shout, Mr Nichols says: “Man, I am on the ground.”

An officer yells: “Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive).”

Moments later an officer shouts: “Put your hands behind your back before I break them.”

“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Mr Nichols says loudly to the officers. “I’m just trying to go home.”

“Stop, I’m not doing anything,” he yells moments later.

Pepper-sprayed and punched in face

The camera is briefly obscured and then Mr Nichols can be seen running as an officer fires a Taser at him. The officers then start chasing Mr Nichols.

He is then punched, kicked and hit with a baton. After the beating, officers mill about for several minutes while Mr Nichols lies propped up against the car, then slumps onto the street.

Emergency workers with what looks like medical equipment attend, but do not immediately intervene.

In footage from one of the cameras, Mr Nichols is heard shouting for his mother while police attack him.

Mr Nichols is then pepper-sprayed and punched in the face.

He died on 10 January, three days after the violent arrest.

The five officers who have been charged are named Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Tadarrius Bean and Justin Smith.

Martin’s lawyer, William Massey, and Mills’ lawyer, Blake Ballin, said their clients would plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley could not be reached.

Officers were ‘ramped up’

Ms Davis said the officers were “already ramped up, at about a 10” during the initial stop.

She added the officers were “aggressive, loud, using profane language and probably scared Mr Nichols from the very beginning”.

The senior officer said: “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.

“All we know is the amount of force that was applied in this situation was over the top.”

Ms Davis also described the officers’ actions as “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” and said that her department has been unable to substantiate the reckless driving allegation that prompted the stop.

Tyre Nichols’ final words move us to ask important questions

Sometimes, there are no words.

Articulating the loss of a son can stretch the vocabulary in the best of times.

The family of Tyre Nichols find themselves in the absolute worst.

What words can convey how it feels to have a son, your son, battered to death on camera?

As hard as anyone tried at a news conference inside Mount Olive Cathedral in Memphis, maybe the job was done best by Tyre himself.

At the end of the video, he is heard to call out for his mother, three times.

They are his final words on footage that shows him becoming limp, unconscious and clearly in distress.

He was surrounded by police and other medical specialists who stood back rather than stepped in.

His final words were a plea to someone he knew would help, his mum, who lived three blocks from where he was beaten.

RowVaughn, Tyre’s mother, wasn’t aware of it until it emerged on the video. She only knows now because she’s been told – she can’t bring herself to watch the images.

“You have no clue how I feel,” she told a news conference when asked about her son calling out for her.

And, of course, we don’t.

But we are asked to consider how we would feel – by the sense of helplessness and lack of humanity aggravated by the desperate cry of a grown man to his mother.

It helps an audience empathise, as well as sympathise, and that’s important amidst the demands for change.

The case of Tyre Nichols moves us to ask important questions around police culture in the United States.

Demonstrations in wake of arrest footage

Protests are taking place in at least nine cities across the US – including Memphis – after the bodycam footage was released.

Mr Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, had earlier warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video but pleaded for peace saying “tearing up the streets” is “not what my son stood for”.

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‘They killed a man who looked like me’

US President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in Tyre Nichols’ death”

“It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day,” he added.

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