A video was released today on January 27, by US authorities, which showed members of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) beating Tyre Nichols during his arrest.
Five police officers were charged on Thursday with second-degree murder over the incident which took place in early January.
According to the police, Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving on January 7. He then tried to run before a second “confrontation” with the police.
After the arrest, Nichols complained of suffering from shortness of breath. He was taken to a hospital but died on January 10.
The city of Memphis has been bracing for the release of the video, which many fear will spark widespread unrest. US President Joe Biden called for calm ahead of the video’s release.
Biden speaks with the Nichols family
President Biden called Tyre Nichol’s parents ahead of the video’s release. “I know it’s devastating,” the president said to Nichol’s parents. “I know people say that to you. But I do know – I’ve lost my son in a war, the consequence of a war in Iraq, being there a year. I lost my daughter when a tractor-trailer broadsided and killed my wife and daughter.”
“I don’t know how you stood there – I didn’t have the courage to do what you did,” Biden added, referring to a press conference held earlier concerning Nichol’s death.
Earlier on Friday, the president took to Twitter to express his condolences. “Jill and I extend our hearts to the family of Tyre Nichols – they deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation,” Biden tweeted.
“Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system lives up to the promise of fairness and dignity for all,” he added.
Jill and I extend our hearts to the family of Tyre Nichols – they deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation.
Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system lives up to the promise of fairness and dignity for all.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 27, 2023
On January 7, Nichol’s vehicle was stopped by police in the city of Memphis, Tennessee, for what was later described as “reckless driving”. According to the Memphis Police Department, Nichols ran before officers had another “confrontation” with him.
Nichols died three days later in hospital. An independent autopsy determined that he died from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”. The Nichols family lawyer Antonio Romanucci claimed that “He was a human piñata for those police officers.”
About three weeks after the incident, on January 27, five ex-police officers who were involved in the incident were charged with second-degree murder. They also face charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.
The police incident and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols have sparked another debate concerning police treatment of African Americans in the US. The five policemen charged with Nichol’s murder, a black man, are also all black.
The police officers who have been charged in relation to the incident have been identified as Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Tadarrius Bean.