Memphis Police Set to Release Video Showing Fatal Beating of Tyre Nichols

An attorney for Nichols' family described the video as three minutes of “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” after a private viewing this week.

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Video of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop, is set to be released by Memphis officials Friday evening.

Nichols' family and their lawyers viewed the footage on Monday and said it shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old FedEx worker for three minutes in an assault that the legal team likened to the infamous 1991 police beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King. His family urged supporters to protest peacefully.

His mother, RowVaughn Wells, made it only through the first minute, family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said.

Romanucci described the video as an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” for three minutes. 

Release of the video comes a day after the five fired officers were charged with murder and other crimes in the killing of Nichols. Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told a news conference that although the officers each played different roles in the killing, “they are all responsible.”

The officers, who are all Black, each face charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

Nichols’ stepfather, Rodney Wells, told The Associated Press that he and Nichols’ mother had sought first-degree murder charges, but "are fine with" the second-degree murder charges.

“There’s other charges, so I’m all right with that,” he said.

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said he saw the video and found it “absolutely appalling.”

“Let me be clear: What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal,” Rausch said during the news conference.

Mulroy said earlier this week that he could not discuss details of the video before its release, but as a human being and a father, he was distraught by it.

“My heart went out to the family,” he said. “I’m a parent ... I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child, with the possible exception of losing a child under really violent, prolonged circumstances.”

U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz said his office is working with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died after a violent arrest by Memphis police.

All five former officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were taken into custody Thursday. Shelby County jail records show Bean, Mills, Martin and Smith have been released as of Friday morning.

Martin's lawyer, William Massey, confirmed that his client had turned himself in. He and Mills' lawyer, Blake Ballin, said their clients would plead not guilty. Lawyers for Smith, Bean and Haley could not be reached.

“No one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die,” Massey said.

Both lawyers said they had not seen the video.

“We are in the dark about many things, just like the general public is,” Ballin said.

Second-degree murder is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison under Tennessee law.

Nichols’ mother and stepfather were joined by several dozen supporters Thursday night for a candlelight vigil and prayer service at a Memphis skate park. Nichols, who had a 4-year-old son, was an avid skateboarder.

RowVaughn Wells thanked those who attended, then added that her family is “grief stricken.”

She warned supporters of the “horrific” nature of the video set to be released Friday, but she pleaded with supporters to “protest in peace.”

“I don’t want us burning up our city, tearing up the streets, because that’s not what my son stood for,” she said. “If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully. You can get your point across but we don’t need to tear up our cities, people, because we do have to live in them.”

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