Body Cam footage released by Memphis Police

  • Authorities released footage Friday night showing the brutal beating of Tire Nichols on Jan. 7.
  • The five officers involved in the beating have since been fired and charged with murder.
  • Memphis and other major US cities braced for protests and widespread outrage on Friday.

Content Note: This story describes police brutality, death, and contains graphic videos.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis Police Department released footage Friday night showing the brutal beating of Tire Nichols, with Memphis and other major U.S. cities bracing for protests and civil unrest.

The footage, from police body cameras and stationary cameras, was released on the department’s Vimeo page.

“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols is heard saying to the officers at the start of the videos, which were released in four parts. “I’m just trying to go home.”

The beating happened during a traffic stop in Memphis’ Hickory Hill neighborhood on January 7. Nichols, who was 29, died of his injuries three days later. Authorities said Nichols had been stopped by officers and charged with reckless driving, but Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis has since said the department has found no evidence to support the reckless driving allegation.

The first video released by police shows the initial struggle, with an officer firing his Taser and Nichols running away. One officer can be heard saying, “I hope they step on his ass.”

The second video shows a fuller cut of the officers beating Nichols, with officers kicking his head several times while he is on the ground.

Video three begins with an officer in foot pursuit, apparently after Nichols fled from officers who had already tased him. Nichols can be heard crying “mommy” as officers pepper spray and beat him.

Memphis officials and others with access to the video had warned the public about the gruesome nature of the footage before it was released on Friday.

Before the video was released, protesters had already gathered in the Martyr Park in the city center. They said they didn’t wait for the videos to reveal what happened because they already knew enough. On social media, some chose to counter the expected brutality of the footage with images they said were from Nichols’ life. A poster wrote that before the body cam video “inevitably goes viral, I want to reinforce THIS video of Tire LIVING his best life” accompanied by a clip of the man on his skateboard.

The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation called the video “absolutely horrific.” Davis, the Memphis police chief, said what he saw was “cruel, callous and inhumane.” And a lawyer representing Nichols’ family said the officers hit Nichols like “a human piƱata.”

Nichols’ family called for peaceful protests at a press conference earlier Friday.

The five police officers seen on the footage were fired from the Memphis Police Department and later charged with second-degree murder. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith also face charges of kidnapping, official misconduct and suppression.

All five officers were booked into the Shelby County Jail Thursday and have since been released on bond.

This latest news story will be updated.

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