Anger and heartbreak looking for the first time at the deadly encounter between the Memphis police and 29-year-old Tyre Nichols. In the video, officers are seen holding Nichols down and striking him repeatedly.
Nichols’ relatives have urged supporters to protest peacefully.
Memphis authorities released more than an hour of footage Friday night of the violent beating of Nichols on Jan. 7. The video is graphic and may be hard for some viewers to watch.
Signs at a protest for Tyre Nichols. CREDIT: CBS News
The 29-year-old father was stopped near his home on suspicion of reckless driving. He died three days later. The five officers involved were fired and are now facing Second-Degree Murder charges.
The footage shows officers tasing Nichols before running away. At a second location, officers are seen holding him down and beating him repeatedly while he screams for his mother.
“Any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it,” RowVaughn Wells, Nichols’ mother, said.
RowVaughn saw the footage earlier this week.
“I want to say to the five police officers that murdered my son, you also disgraced your own families,” RowVaughn said.
Ahead of the video’s release, the family asked the public in Memphis and across the country to stay peaceful as they demonstrate.
“We do not want any type of uproar; we do not want any type of disturbance. We want peaceful protest,” Rodney Wells, Tyre Nichols’ stepfather, said.
Planned protests were held in cities from coast to coast, calling for police accountability and justice for Nichols.
Planned protests honoring Tyre Nichols. CREDIT: CBS News
CBS News learned investigators are searching for more potential video evidence from surveillance cameras in an effort to determine, with more certainty, what sparked the confrontation.
Action taken against the officers happened more quickly than in past notable police brutality cases. Family Attorney Ben Crump hopes that becomes the standard.
Locally, in Southwest Florida, the President of the Lee County NAACP, James Muwakkil, invited WINK News into his home, where he and WINK News reporter Justin Case watched the video for the first time.
“This is the video that justifies the second-degree murder charges, and rightfully so. They’re supposed to get charged, rightfully so. Up until that point, it wasn’t,” Muwakkil said.
After watching all of the videos, Muwakkil said that Nichols had a duty to obey the law in the initial contact with law enforcement. He said that Mr. Nichols broke the law by fleeing. Muwakkil’s recommendation is that everyone obeys the law. But, he emphasized that fleeing from law enforcement did not warrant the murder.
Footage released by the Memphis Police Department. CREDIT: MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT
“When they said, ‘put your hands behind your back,’ he should have obeyed. Citizens have a responsibility to obey the law. But the law has a responsibility to keep us safe and protected and not go beyond what is necessary to make the arrest and get us to jail so we can have our day in court,” Muwakkil said. “I agree with the charges. The NAACP agrees with the charges. And we hope that they get charged and sentenced to the maximum penalty that the law allows.”
Continuing to watch the footage, Muwakkil was very clear about how he felt.
“Right there — murder. Murder — right there. Murder — right there. Right there — murder,” Muwakkil said.
“Him getting out and running does not justify the murder in which we are not witnessing and have just witnessed. This is an embarrassment to the black families all across America. And no African American should be upholding them,” Muwakkil said. “When they are wrong, they should be sentenced according to the maximum of which they’re charged with.”
Muwakkil said he was shocked when he did not see any officers on the scene attempt to stop the violence and de-escalate the situation. He was also shocked the paramedics didn’t act with a sense of urgency to help Nichols.
Muwakkil ended it by saying it should drive people to reach out to their representatives and demand police reform and more accountability.
As previously mentioned, the five Memphis police officers involved in the beating have been fired and face Second-Degree Murder charges.
WINK News spoke with Logan Goldberg, a local attorney, who questions how the officers were hired in the first place.
Goldberg wondered how the officers passed a background check when they were originally hired. Going on to explain that although there are still many questions, one of the charges may answer some of them.
Goldberg said the kidnapping charge is a ‘reveal.’ Goldberg explains how that calls into question the cause for pulling Tyre Nichols over in the first place.
“Because usually officers have the ability to stop you and detain you if they have some sort of reasonable suspicion that you may have committed a crime. Kidnapping would not be charged if they had a reasonable suspicion and stopped him. So that begs the question of there may have been something before that we may not know,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg noted that, like all cases, this will depend on how much evidence there is. Going on to explain that evidence isn’t always what people do, sometimes, it’s what they don’t do.
Protests in the wake of Tyre Nichols death after getting beaten by Memphis Police. CREDIT: CBS News
“What happened, and then after they did what they did to this man, why they didn’t perform life-saving medical treatment on him or have fire emergency responders? They’re helping him it sounds like they just kind of brought him to the hospital. And that was about it. It definitely sounds, I believe, from the video that I watched of attorney Ben Crump describing what was in there, that there was a long time period between when the officers were done with him up until the time they started actually doing anything to help him medically. And that, again, is where the that failure to render a is most likely going to come in,” Goldberg said.
One of the unknowns is what started the chain of events leading to Tyre Nichols’ death. We do know that if the officers are convicted, they could spend life in prison