Memphis police officers beat man to death after traffic stop

Memphis Police Department has released harrowing bodycam footage of five police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols following a traffic stop for purported reckless driving.

The video released on Friday night shows Nichols, 29, crying out for his mother multiple times during the brutal January 7 assault, which took place just 80 yards from his home.

‘Mom! Mom!’ Nichols screams as he is pinned to the ground by multiple officers, pepper sprayed in the face, kicked and punched in the head, while struck with a metal baton.

It shows police rained at least nine blows down on the FedEx worker while screaming profanities throughout the nearly four-minute altercation.

Even after paramedics arrived, a handcuffed Nichols remained slumped over on the pavement for nearly half an hour without significant medical intervention.

All five officers involved in the killing faced second-degree murder charges, with the district attorney saying that though they played different roles, ‘they are all responsible.’


The violent incident begins with a traffic stop, where multiple unmarked cop cars surround Nichols’ vehicle and officers drag him from the driver’s seat as one yells, ‘Get the f*** out of the f****** car.’

‘D**n, I didn’t do anything … I am just trying to go home,’ responds Nichols.

‘On the ground, on the ground,’ an officer says as cops force Nichols to the ground, order him to lay on his stomach and squirt him in the face with pepper spray.

‘Alright, I’m on the ground,’ Nichols can be heard saying, with a cop responding profanely: ‘B***h, put your hands behind your back before I …. I’m going to knock your ass the f*** out.’

‘Get on the f****** ground. I’m going to tase you,’ one cop says.


‘You guys are really doing a lot right now. I’m just trying to go home,’ says Nichols.

Several cops begin kicking Nichols as he lies on the ground. Nichols then breaks free, scrambles to his feet and sprints away down a road with officers chasing him on foot.

One officer fires a taser at Nichols, but later remarks that only one prong struck him, meaning the circuit was not completed and the electric shock was not delivered.

After running for roughly half a mile, Nichols is tackled and held down by two other officers involved in the pursuit, who repeatedly shout ‘give me your hands!’

Other cops are seen arriving on foot as Nichols is being pinned down. One sprays pepper spray at Nichols, also hitting himself in the face.

Two officers hold Nichols to the ground as he moves about, then the third appears to kick him in the head.

Nichols slumps more fully onto the pavement with all three officers surrounding him. The same officer kicks him again.

The officer who used the pepper spray then extends a telescoping metal baton, shouting, ‘I’m gonna baton the f*** out of him!’ before striking Nichols three times in the back.

Several officers are seen propping Nichols up on his feet as one and punches his face. Nichols stumbles and turns, still held up by two officers.

The officer who punched him then walks around to Nichols’ front and punches him three more times. Then Nichols collapses.

Nichols is heard repeatedly screaming, ‘Mom! Mom!’ during the struggle, but goes silent after blows to his face. His mother has said the beating occurred only about 80 yards from her home.

After Nichols is handcuffed, he appears to be unresponsive and unable to sit upright.

As the minutes tick by, cops are heard cursing, wisecracking and ordering him to sit up as he slumps over onto the pavement.

One cop is seen leaning down and tying his own shoe as Nichols slumps nearby.

Even after paramedics arrive on the scene, they do not appear to render immediate aid.

Nichols is seen lying on the pavement for more than 19 minutes as at least eight cops mill around the scene, flushing pepper spray out of their own eyes.

Nearly half an hour after the assault, an ambulance finally pulls up and a stretcher is unloaded to transport Nichols.

The videos released on Friday consist of more than an hour of footage, including video from three body-worn cameras and one surveillance camera mounted on a utility pole.

Nichols died in hospital on January 10, three days after being beaten by the officers.

The footage has already raised questions about the paramedics and other law enforcement officers who arrived after Nichols was in handcuffs.


Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said in a statement: ‘Having watched the videotape for the first time tonight, I have concerns about two deputies who arrived on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols.’

Bonner said he had launched an internal investigation into the two deputies, adding that they had been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the probe.

Authorities across the country braced for potential unrest in response to the gruesome body-camera footage – with increased security surrounding Capitol Hill and police from Los Angeles to New York monitoring the situation.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp activated the National Guard after declaring a state of emergency in Atlanta, calling in 1,000 guardsmen to maintain the peace.

In the immediate aftermath of the videos release, protesters gathered in cities across the country, but the demonstrations appeared to be largely peaceful as darkness descended over the country.

Demonstrators gathered in Times Square, outside the White House, in Memphis and other cities as the video was released.

In Memphis, protesters chanted: ‘Say his name! Tyre Nichols!’ and several dozen protesters blocked a heavily traveled bridge on Interstate 55 that is one of two main spans connecting Arkansas and Tennessee over the Mississippi River.



Lora Dene King, whose father Rodney survived an infamous police beating in Los Angeles in 1991, was in tears as she attended a public viewing of the footage of cops beating Nichols.

A bystander filmed LAPD officers beating King with batons, and their acquittal the following year sparked six days of rioting in Los Angeles as racial tensions boiled over.

In King’s case, the officers involved were white, while the five officers charged with murdering Nichols, a black man, are themselves black.

Earlier Friday, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the footage is the worst she has witnessed in her career.

‘We are going to see acts that defy humanity, a disregard for life, duty of care and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement,’ she said Friday morning.

The police chief also revealed there is ‘no proof’ that Tyre was driving recklessly when he was pulled over.

David added: ‘It is about human dignity, integrity, accountability and the duty to protect. As this video will show – it doesn’t matter whose wearing the uniform.’

Four of the five Memphis Police officers charged in the death of Tyre have been released on a combined $1million bond after being arrested yesterday.

Justin Smith, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III and Tadarrius Bean were released from Shelby County Jail, according to court records.

Demetrius Haley is still in jail with a $350,000 bond after all five were charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.

Shelby County District attorney Steve Mutlroy said Tyre was left ‘bloody and bruised’ after he was pepper sprayed and beaten just yards from his home.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police.

All five were fired last Friday for violation of police procedure, with city officials saying they were notified on January 15.

Davis said the cops were ‘amped up’ when they stopped Tyre, with two of the officers from a special team designed to stop street crime.

 Nichols’ mother RowVaughn Wells said her son was ‘beat like a piñata’.

‘Yes, he cried out for me, because I’m his mother. He was trying to get home to safety. He was a mamma’s boy,’ she said through tears.

‘He loves me to death. He has my name tattooed on his arm. He had Crohn’s disease, and he had surgery in 2013.

‘I told my husband my stomach is hurting so bad, and once I found out what happened, it was just the fact that I was feeling my son’s pain.

‘I was feeling my son’s pain as they were beating him to death.’

RowVaughn said that she feels sorry for the officers involved in her son’s death, admitting she has not had time to properly grieve.

‘They brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the black community’, she said.

‘I don’t hate anybody. That’s not in my nature, I just feel sorry for them because they did something horrendous.’

RowVaughn also told CNN host Don Lemon that she was unable to view the footage, leaving Tyre’s step-father, Rodney Wells to watch the ‘horrific’ footage.

The national president of the Fraternal Order of Police issued a scathing statement in response to the video of police beating Nichols.

Patrick Yoes said the officers’ physical confrontation with Nichols ‘does not constitute legitimate police work or a traffic stop gone wrong.’

Instead, Yoes called it a ‘criminal assault under the pretext of law.’

At least some of officers charged with murdering Nichols were members of the Memphis Police Department’s SCORPION team, a street crime unit deployed to crime hot spots and intended to prevent violence.

Lawyers for Nichols family have since called for the SCORPION team to be dismantled following the death of Nichols, a FedEx employee.

Antonio Romanucci said the ‘intent of the unit has now been corrupted’ and is calling for reviews on all of similar units across the country.

‘This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrorized. Not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know … acted in concert with each other,’ said Romanucci.

The officers ‘acted together … to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,’ he added.

He also branded the definition of the kidnapping charges the officers face as implying a crime of ‘terrorism’.

Aggravated kidnapping is when the crime is committed to facilitate any other felony, it interferes with governmental function, it is intended to seriously injure or terrorize the victim, inflict bodily injury on the victim or possess or threaten to use a deadly weapon.

Romanucci also called for police unions to speak out supporting the arrests of the five officers, adding: ‘When you think of 9/11, what’s the word that comes to mind? Terrorism.’

‘When you think of other heinous acts that have happened in churches across this country, any act of terrorism, what does that instill in you?

‘That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition that we are dealing with here on this kidnapping charge. It is terrorism. It was designed to terrorize the victim.’

Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who also represents the family, addressed several issues during a press conference at Mount Olive Baptist Church.

He said that the arrest of the five officers should be the ‘blueprint’ going forward in America when a police officer commits a crime and praised Police Chief Davis for her ‘swift justice’.

Crump said: He said: ‘We applaud the DA for bringing these charges. Let me be exceedingly clear on this point.

‘When we look at how these five black officers who were caught on camera committing a crime, and when we look at how fast the police chief and the department terminated them, and how swiftly the DA brought charges against them – in less than 20 days – we want to proclaim this as the blueprint going forward.

‘Any time any officers, whether black or white, are held accountable, you can no longer tell us that we have to wait six months to a year when we have a video of excessive force.

‘No more can you tell us that. With these five black officers, you are moving swiftly, and as the chief said, it was important for the community that they took swift action,’ he said.

Crump continued: ‘When it is a white officer, it is also important that there is swift action. We won’t let black officers be treated differently than white officers

‘We have the blueprint now America, and we won’t accept anything less in the future – there will be equal justice under the law.

‘We now have a precedent that has been set here in Memphis, and we intend to hold this blueprint for all of America on this day forth.’

Mulroy, the district attorney, said that investigators had wanted to complete as many interviews as possible before making the footage public. Nichols’ family members viewed the video Monday.

Anticipating strong reaction to the footage, Davis told ABC that she and other local officials decided it would be best to release the video later in the day, after schools are dismissed and people are home from work.

Nichols’ mother warned supporters of the ‘horrific’ nature of the video but pleaded for for protests to remain peaceful following its release.

‘I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,’ she said Thursday. ‘If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.’

Davis also urged calm after the video´s release, saying: ‘None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens.’

People raid Gamestop in Memphis.

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, described the video as ‘absolutely appalling.’

He said: ‘Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong, and this was criminal.’

In addition to the five officers charged Thursday, Davis said in the statement that other officers also are under investigation.

Two Memphis Fire Department personnel also have been relieved of duty pending an investigation.

President Biden has also called for calm ahead of the release of the video – adding: ‘Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.’

He said: ‘As Americans grieve, the Department of Justice conducts its investigation, and state authorities continue their work, I join Tyre’s family in calling for peaceful protest.

‘Violence is destructive and against the law. It has no place in peaceful protests seeking justice.’

‘Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.

‘We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted black and brown people.’

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