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Monday, May 20, 2024

Tyre Nichols video: What the footage of police beating shows

Memphis Police has released bodycam footage showing the moment Tyre Nichols called for his mother as he was beaten by five officers before he died.
Warning: This video features distressing images

Bodycam footage of 29-year-old father Tyre Nichols calling for his mother as he is beaten by police in Memphis has been released.

Mr Nichols died in hospital three days after being pulled over for alleged reckless driving. He was pepper sprayed, kicked and punched by five officers who have since lost their jobs and been charged with his murder.


Video of the arrest, taken from body cameras and a surveillance camera mounted to a pole, was released in four instalments made public on Friday.

The footage is graphically violent and full of expletives.

This article contains descriptions that some people may find distressing

Only a small number of people had seen the videos before Friday evening, including Mr Nichols' family, their legal team and several officials.


Part one: Police bodycam footage shows traffic stop


The first video released shows the initial traffic stop that led to Mr Nichols' fatal encounter with police. None of the videos released show what prompted police to perform a traffic stop.

But within a minute of being pulled over, officers can be heard yelling profanities and threats, and ordering him out of his car.

"I didn't do anything!" he says.

The officers then force him to the ground as he protests his innocence. An officer can be heard threatening to break his arms as they instruct him to get on his stomach and lie flat.

A scuffle appears to ensue in which Mr Nichols breaks free of the officers and flees on foot.

The officers deploy pepper spray and at least one taser in an unsuccessful attempt to stop him.

He is not seen again in this first portion of the video. The rest of the footage shows officers using water to spray their eyes after being hit with pepper spray.

The officer wearing the bodycam - who is white and does not appear to be one of the five facing charges - can be heard saying that he hopes his fellow officers "stomp" Nichols when they find him.


Part two: Footage from pole camera shows brutal beating


The officers catch up with Mr Nichols, who is quickly taken to the ground.

As two officers are working to restrain him, a third can be seen walking up to him and kicking him in the head twice.

Moments later, a fourth officer - it is unclear who - pulls out an expandable baton and strikes Mr Nichols several times. Officers also punch him several times.


He appears to be stumbling by this time and is offering no resistance.

At the five-minute mark, Mr Nichols is on the ground and appears to be writhing. By this point, officers are no longer striking him.

He is then taken to one of the unmarked police vehicles, where he is leaned against the door. Officers are shining their torches at him and it is unclear if he is still responsive.


Part three: Bodycam footage shows Mr Nichols cry out 'Mom'


This video, taken from a police-worn body camera, captured the same brutal encounter, but from a different angle, and contained audio.

About a minute into the video, two officers can be seen wrestling with Mr Nichols. The officer wearing the bodycam threatens to spray him.

"Mom!" Mr Nichols calls out in distress.

Soon after, another scuffle ensues as the police call for Mr Nichols to "give them your hands". The officer wearing the bodycam walks away, apparently having been hit with pepper spray during the confrontation.

In the background, officers can still be heard yelling at Mr Nichols to give them his hands and lie flat.

The officer wearing the bodycam returns and pulls out his expandable baton - which we also saw clearly in the second video from the pole cam. Using an expletive, he yells at Mr Nichols and makes clear he plans to strike him with the baton.

He strikes him several times, and another officer can be seen punching Mr Nichols in the face while his hands are restrained behind him.

The officer wearing the bodycam calls in their location, and officers can be seen struggling with Mr Nichols as more police arrive. The officer can be heard telling another that Mr Nichols made him spray himself.

The other officer replies that he tazed him, using an expletive.

The video ends with the officer wearing the bodycam walking away and panting from exhaustion.


Part four: Bodycam footage shows Tyre Nichols bloodied


The fourth and final video is from the bodycam of another unnamed officer. It shows the same incident as the third video.

The footage begins with a brief chase that ends with the officers tackling Mr Nichols.

It appears that the bodycam becomes detached from the officer, as for the first few minutes nothing can be seen and we can only hear what sounds like a scuffle and conversation.

We again hear Mr Nichols calling out for his mother, and officers using expletives while ordering him to give them his hands.

At one point, the officers can be heard telling one another that they thought Mr Nichols was "on something" - seeming to indicate that they believed he had been using drugs. There is no known evidence that this was the case.

Once the officer's bodycam is back on, we get a clearer view of Mr Nichols as he is slumped against the unmarked police car.

He appears to be injured and blood is visible on his head. He does not speak. One officer pulls him up after he slumps to the side. He is variously seen sitting up, leaning on the car or slumped on the ground.

A significant portion of the video shows officers speaking to one another and recounting details of the incident. Some of the officers claim that Mr Nichols "swung" at them or reached for their guns. Neither allegation is supported by the released video.

Another officer later claims Mr Nichols swerved and almost struck his police vehicle. Officers can also be heard discussing the fact that nothing was found in his car.

Towards the end of the footage, we get a clear view of Mr Nichols, who appears to be seriously injured and in pain.

An officer - it is unclear who - repeatedly asks him what "he had" - again suggesting that they believed he was using drugs at the time of the incident.

It doesn't appear that Nichols is able to answer.

The officer repeatedly tells him that "you can't go nowhere".

In total, about 10 people stand by, with no one offering to help Mr Nichols, who is in visible distress.

Some of the last few minutes of video are blurred out and redacted - officials had said that some parts would be redacted according to the state's public records laws.



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