MEMPHIS, Tennessee, USA
Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday of the violent beating of Tire Nichols by five police officers, in which officers grabbed the motorist and repeatedly beat him as he yelled for his mother.
The video surfaced a day after the officers, all black, were charged with murder in the death of Nichols, also black.
Footage shows police savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes, while yelling obscenities at him throughout the attack. The Nichols family legal team has compared the assault to the infamous 1991 police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.
An officer is heard on the video threatening to hit Nichols. His body cam shows him raising the baton as at least one other officer holds Nichols down.
After the first officer roughly pulls Nichols out of his car, he is heard saying, “I didn’t do anything,” as the group of officers begin to wrestle him to the ground.
“Get down on the ground,” one officer yells, while another is heard yelling, “Taser him.”
Nichols calmly responds shortly after being pushed to the ground: “Okay, I’m on the ground.” Moments later, as the officers continue to yell, Nichols says, “Man, I’m on the ground.”
An officer yells, “Put your hands behind your back before I break your (expletive).” Moments later, an officer yells, “Put your hands behind your back before I break them.”
“I’m just trying to go home,” Nichols tells them at one point.
The camera briefly blacks out and then Nichols can be seen running as an officer tasers him. The agents then begin to pursue Nichols.
After the beating, officers huddled together for several minutes as Nichols lay propped up against the car and then collapsed in the street.
Cities across the country prepared for large demonstrations. Nichols’ relatives urged his supporters to protest peacefully.
“This young man, by definition of the law in this state, was terrified. Not by one, not by two, but by five agents that we now know…acted in concert,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who represents the Nichols family.
The officers “acted together… to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, leading to murder,” Romanucci stated.
Memphis Police Director Cerelyn Davis described the officers’ actions as “egregious, reckless and inhumane,” saying her department has been unable to prove the reckless driving charge that led to the arrest.
Given the likelihood of protests, Davis explained to ABC that she and other local officials decided it would be best to release the video late in the day, after school had ended and people had come home from work.
Court records showed that the five former officers—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr, Emmitt Martin III, and Justin Smith—were arrested. Four were released after posting bail.
Each of the officers faces charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, misconduct and oppression.
Second degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.
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