(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — Tyre Nichols died at the age of 29 on Jan. 10, three days after a confrontation with police during a traffic stop arrest in Memphis, Tennessee.
The five Memphis Police Department officers involved in his arrest — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired and then charged with second-degree murder in connection with Nichols’ death.
Body camera footage of his alleged beating by the former officers, which is set to be released Friday, has been described as “appalling,” “deplorable,” “heinous,” “violent” and “troublesome on every level” by the attorney for the Nichols family.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jan 27, 10:36 AM EST
Memphis police chief says video left her ‘horrified,’ ‘disgusted’
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said video of the traffic stop that allegedly led to Tyre Nichols’ death left her “horrified,” “disgusted,” “sad” and “confused.”
“In my 36 years … I would have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been more horrified and disgusted, sad … and, to some degree, confused,” Davis told ABC News’ Good Morning America on Friday.
When pressed on why the video left her “confused,” she replied that it was “just in the level of aggression and response to what had occurred in this traffic stop and is still very unclear, you know, as to the real reason for the stop in the first place.”
Davis said “there was much discussion about when an appropriate time for the video to be released,” and “we felt that Friday would be better.”
“We’re taking under consideration the reaction of the community that could potentially take place and ensuring that our schools, you know, are out, most business folks would be on the way home,” the chief explained.
“Even though this is a very, very difficult video to watch, it was never a thought that we would not release this video,” Davis added. “We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t released too prematurely because we wanted to ensure that the DA’s office, the TBI [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] and also the FBI had an opportunity to cross some of the hurdles that they had to in their investigation. And we’re sort of at a point now that the DA has made his statements in reference to charges of these officers, that this is a safe time for us to release the video.”
Jan 27, 10:28 AM EST
Memphis calls for ‘safe’ protest
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said she expects residents to protest upon the release of the body-camera footage, which she called “heinous, reckless and inhumane,” though said “we need to ensure our community is safe in this process.”
“None of this is a calling card for inciting violence or destruction on our community or against our citizens,” Davis said in a statement Thursday, following the arrest of the five officers involved in Nichol’s arrest.
Authorities have warned law enforcement agencies of the reaction that may transpire when the official video footage is released.
Tennessee Sheriff’s Association President Jeff Bledsoe sent out a letter to Jonathan Thompson, the National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director/CEO, on Wednesday anticipating the public reaction to the video’s release.
“Due to the nature of the video’s contents it is believed it may spark responses outside of the traditional protests,” the letter read. “There is a public safety risk potential to communities and peace officers expanding outside of the Shelby County (Memphis) TN area.”
Other cities are also anticipating protests upon the release of the footage.
“We are closely monitoring the events in Memphis and are prepared to support peaceful protests in our city,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement Thursday. “We understand and share in the outrage surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols. Police officers are expected to conduct themselves in a compassionate, competent, and constitutional manner and these officers failed Tyre, their communities and their profession. We ask that demonstrations be safe and peaceful.”
In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department said it has “fully activated all sworn personnel in preparation for possible First Amendment activities.”
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams told a local radio station on Friday, “It is imperative that New Yorkers exercise their right to free speech in a very peaceful way — and that is what we are expecting from the city.”
Jan 27, 10:24 AM EST
Nichols’ family reacts to bodycam footage
After viewing the body camera footage Monday morning along with their attorney, Nichols’ family said they saw the police kick, pepper spray and use a stun gun on their son all while Nichols repeatedly asked, “What did I do?”
“They handcuffed him and set him — propped him up on the car. And as he fell over they’d tell him, ‘Sit back up,'” Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, told ABC News earlier this week. “You know, and he would slump back over again and they would make him sit back up. They never rendered any aid.”
Nichols’ mother, Rowvaughn Wells, told ABC News that she could not watch the entire video.
“Once the video started and I heard my son’s voice, I lost it. I couldn’t stay in the room. All I heard him say was, ‘What did I do?’ And once I heard that, I lost it,” she said.
An independent autopsy, completed by a forensic pathologist hired by the family’s attorneys, found that Nichols suffered from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to the family.
Jan 27, 10:22 AM EST
Timing of body camera footage release
The city plans to publicly release the body camera footage of Nichols’ arrest sometime after 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.
“As we have said all along, we wanted to ensure the proper legal steps were followed and that the family of Mr. Nichols had the opportunity to view the video footage privately before we released it to the public,” Strickland said in a statement Thursday night.
“It is clear that these officers violated the department’s policies and training. But we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again,” he continued, noting the city is initiating an independent review of the specialized units’ training, policies and operations.
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