Memphis officials have released disturbing police footage the arrest of Tire Nicholsa 29-year-old black man who died in hospital three days after being violently arrested during a traffic stop earlier this month.
Family members, city leaders and activists harshly criticized the behavior of the officers shown in the footage, five of whom have been fired and charged with murder.
The first part of the hour-long video showed the officers pulling the young man over and forcing him out of the vehicle and onto the floor.
One of them is heard saying: “B**ch put your hands behind your back before I break them.” An officer then threatens Nichols that “I’m going to beat the hell out of your ass.”
Nichols replies: “You guys are really doing a lot right now. I’m just trying to go home.”
The video shows the officers attempting to use their Tasers on Nichols, who then runs from the scene.
When the first group of officers hear over the radios that the young man has been caught, another is heard saying: “I hope they step on his ass.”
Officers who caught up with Nichols then wrestled him to the ground and pepper spray was apparently deployed in Nichols’ face.
“I’m going to knock you out,” one officer can be heard shouting, while another says: “Watch out, I’m going to spray you again.”
Nichols on the ground can be heard calling loudly for his mother.
The officers can then be heard on bodycam video repeatedly yelling at Nichols, “Give me your fucking hands.”
Another officer can be heard saying, “That mother f**** made me spray me” with pepper spray.
The video then showed Nichols falling against a car as the officers stood and laughed and recounted the arrest and what they had done to catch him.
“I jumped in, started rocking him,” one officer can be heard bragging while another claimed Nichols put his hand on their gun.
“He literally had his hand on my gun. That mother was there, the officer said.
In addition to the bodycam video from the officers, the city of Memphis also released video from a police camera attached to a light pole across from the scene of the incident.
The camera, which had no sound, showed Nichols being hit nine times in four minutes, according to CNN.
Following the release of the videos, protesters shut down parts of Interstate 55 in Memphis.
The protests began shortly after the video was released at 7 p.m. ET, with a large crowd taking to I-55 in downtown Memphis heading toward the Mississippi River bridge, according to ABC24.
Protesters then also headed for the city’s police station, according to NBC News.
Meanwhile, groups of protesters have also gathered in New York’s Times Square, Washington DC and Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden called the video “horrific” and said it was a “painful reminder” of the fear black and brown Americans regularly face, while calling for peaceful demonstrations.
“Like so many, I was upset and deeply pained to see the horrific video of the beating that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols,” the president said in a statement. “It’s another painful reminder of the deep fear and trauma, pain and exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day.”
And the president added, “We must do everything in our power to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to its promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all,” Biden continued. “Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Mr Nichols, so earlier on Friday: “I want to say to the five police officers who murdered my son, you also dishonored your own families when you did this.”
She added: “I’m going to pray for you and your families because at the end of the day this shouldn’t have happened. This just shouldn’t have happened. We want justice for my son.”
Rodney Wells, the stepfather of Tire Nichols, said the group of officers as well as the medics who later arrived involved showed a callous disregard for the man who had just been severely beaten.
“No one has given him any help whatsoever. They were walking around smoking cigarettes as if everything was calm and bragging about what was happening, says Wells. told CNN. “He was sitting there and then he collapsed. And an officer walked up to him and said, ‘Get back up motherf***er,’ while he’s in handcuffs.”
City and state officials have strongly condemned the officers’ behavior.
David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is helping to investigate the incident, so he was “swallowed” by the behavior he saw in the video of the police stop, which “did not reflect proper police work at all.”
“We are here to pursue truth and justice, and realize we shouldn’t be here,” the director said at a news conference Thursday. – Simply put, this should not have happened.
“I’m saddened and frankly I’m shocked – I’m sickened by what I saw,” he added.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said earlier this week that the group of officers in the video — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith were “directly responsible” for the “physical abuse” of Nichols, calling the officers’ actions “heinous, callous and inhumane.”
“This is a failure of basic humanity against another individualism,” she said in a video statement.
The police’s extreme use of force in the video has been compared to the infamous beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee as well investigating Nichols’ deathsuggesting that the former officers involved in the arrest may face additional federal charges in addition to local ones.
The family of Tire Nichols has asked protesters to show their support peacefully.
“It’s going to be terrible, but I want each and every one of you to protest in peace. I don’t want us to burn our cities, tear up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” Wells said at a vigil on Thursday, the night before the video was released.
This is news and will be updated with new information.