Graphic Warning: Memphis Releases Body Cam Footage of Fatal Police Beating, Sparking Violence
The release of body cam footage showing Memphis, Tennessee, police officers beating Tyre Nichols sparked revulsion and anger on social media and led to anti-police violence in New York City.
On Jan. 7, Nichols was stopped by Memphis police officers who alleged he was driving recklessly, a charge Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis has said investigators “have not been able to substantiate,” according to CBS News.
The official story prior to the release of the video was that a confrontation took place, leading Nichols to run from police. Nichols was arrested, but after complaining he was having trouble breathing, he was taken to a hospital, where he died on Jan. 10.
CBS reported that a cause of death has not been released, but that an independent autopsy commissioned by Nichols’ family found “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”
The Memphis Police Department released four videos of the incident. These include body cam and streetlight-mounted surveillance camera footage.
“You’re going to see a disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required for law enforcement,” Davis said before the release of the videos, according to the Commercial Appeal.
“I’m sure, as I said before, that individuals watching will feel what the family felt. If you don’t, then you’re not a human being,” she said.
The videos show police kicking Nichols in the face and abdomen, hitting him multiple times with a baton, punching him in the upper body and face, and spraying him with pepper spray.
WARNING: The following video contains scenes of graphic violence that viewers may find disturbing.
[Full video] City of Memphis releases video clips that show police beating Tyre Nichols, a former Sacramento resident.
The five officers charged with Nichols’ beating and death have been released from jail on bail. https://t.co/IYqEK2nYpD #TyreNichols #TyreNicholsVideo pic.twitter.com/Log485e3ap
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) January 28, 2023
The release of the videos sparked protests in multiple cities, including New York City and Atlanta.
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW:
Protests in downtown Atlanta, following the release of the #TyreNichols police body cam video.@wsbtv pic.twitter.com/xDza0yaU5P
— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) January 28, 2023
The protest in New York devolved into violence when a man broke the windshield of a police vehicle.
WARNING: The following videos contain language that viewers may find offensive.
Tonight, a protest turns violent just outside of Times Square in New York when on man stomps on the windscreen of a cop car, shattering it. Video shot by me. #tyrenichols pic.twitter.com/gxmJoPmBHW
— Sarah Williamson (@SaWilliamson9) January 28, 2023
a protest turns violent just outside of #TimesSquare in #NewYork when on man stomps on the windscreen of a cop car, shattering it.
Join @CBKNEWS121#TyreNichols #TyreeNichols pic.twitter.com/YwYmXOVljL
— CBKNEWS (@CBKNEWS121) January 28, 2023
Prior to that protest, Hank Newsome, a founder of Black Lives Matter in New York, set the tone, according to the New York Post.
“Was they peaceful when they were stomping on brother Nichols’ head, when they was hitting him with that baton? … Was they peaceful with Rodney King, was they peaceful with George Floyd, Eric Garner?” he said.
“But they want us to always be peaceful. I’m not telling you to come out here and wild out but we ain’t never taking violence off the f***ing table. Because that’s the language of America,” he said.
Davis said one piece is still missing — how the traffic stop became so aggressive so quickly.
“We all are trying to figure out what took them to 10, you know, at the very beginning of the stop,” she said, referring to the officers. “I don’t care what happened. The stop should not have started at a 10.”
The Memphis police officers in question — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were fired on Jan. 20 and on Thursday were charged with second-degree murder, according to CBS.
Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. said Friday that two deputies at the scene had been “relieved of duty.”
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