New videos reveal police brutally assailing Tyre Nichols
- Memphis officials released four videos of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after a traffic stop. The footage shows the 29-year-old being kicked, punched, clubbed and more without signs of fighting back.
- The videos also reveal how long it took for medical attention to reach Nichols, how the officers quickly turned violent at the beginning of the traffic stop and how their demands while they assaulted him were contradictory.
- In the videos, Nichols calls for his mom. She said earlier this week he was 80 yards away from her house when the beating took place.
- Protesters gathered in Memphis, New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities on Friday night as others took to social media to remember Nichols. His family asked demonstrators remain peaceful.
- Five ex-Memphis police officers have been charged in Nichols' death, and two sheriffs' deputies were relieved of duty after the videos were released on Friday night.
Harrowing videos show police fatally beat Tyre Nichols, who cries out for his mother
It took 26 minutes for a stretcher to appear at the spot where Tyre Nichols was slumped over on the ground after a Memphis police officer was first seen appearing to kick him in the face.
That was according to one of the four videos authorities released Friday night capturing the brutal assault on 29-year-old Nichols, who was pulled over during a Jan. 7 traffic stop and was dead three days later.
The footage showed four vantage points: Three videos were from officer body-worn cameras and one was from a police surveillance camera mounted on a pole. The videos depicted Nichols being punched, struck with a baton, seemingly kicked in the face, and sprayed with an irritant. They also captured him crying out for his mother and saying he was trying to go home.
And they appeared to show police’s aggressive, chaotic and at times inconsistent demands of Nichols — like demanding he provide his hands while his arm was being held and he was being pulled to his feet. They also appear to show police punch him as he is being held.
Police officials across U.S. condemn Nichols arrest, death
New York City’s police commissioners and top officials at law enforcement agencies across the country expressed shock and anger at the treatment of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police.
Reacting after body camera and other video was released Friday evening, NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said she and her department were outraged.
“The disgraceful actions depicted in the released video are an unequivocal violation of our oath to protect those we serve, and a failure of basic human decency,” Sewell said in a statement.
Other police chiefs, sheriffs and mayors also weighed in. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz called the officers’ actions horrific. “What happened to Tyre Nichols should not have happened,” he said.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a video that he was ashamed and angry. "As law enforcement we take an oath to protect and serve. The actions that day broke, violated and tarnished that oath,” he said.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said he was disturbed and heartbroken.
Tyre Nichols Protest in Detroit
Some Democrats call for revival of police accountability bill, the George Floyd Act
Some Democrats on Friday called for reviving the defunct George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as they responded to video of Tyre Nichols’ fatal encounter with Memphis police.
Vice President Kamala Harris led the Democrats in calling for the return of the 2021 bill, which would have lowered the threshold for federal wrongdoing convictions for officers, restricted law enforcement’s use of qualified immunity to hide from liability, and limited police use of physical restraint methods like chokeholds. The bill at one point also included a database of fired officers to make transferring to unknowing communities more difficult.
“Congress must act with urgency and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” she said in a statement late Friday.
President Joe Biden blamed Republicans in the U.S. Senate for blocking the bill in 2021, the year Congress considered a version authored by then-Rep. Karen Bass. It’s known more commonly as the George Floyd Act.
“Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again,” Biden said in a statement Friday, reacting to video of Nichols’ death.
Bass, now mayor of Los Angeles, did not call outright for the legislation to be revived Friday, but did argue that its provisions are needed in the wake of Nichols’ death.
“Officers have to know that there will be consequences,” she said on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut with Joy Reid.” “They will lose their job. And also that they just can’t go to another department. That’s why we wanted to have a database, so that an officer couldn’t just go from one department to the next.”
The L.A. County Democratic Party on Friday endorsed the idea of reviving the George Floyd Act, but said stronger accountability must be established at the state and local level.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing Nichols’ family alongside lawyer Antonio Romanucci, has called on lawmakers to introduce “Tyre’s law,” which would require fellow officers to intervene when they witness physical abuse.
Romanucci, speaking on MSNBC Friday, said he would like to see Congress “rejuvenate” the George Floyd Act.
“Let Washington hear us,” he said.
Tennessee senators say DOJ and state are investigating
Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty released statements about the video footage of Nichols' beating, with Blackburn calling it "difficult to watch" and Hagerty saying that he was "deeply disturbed" by it.
The two Republican senators also added that they were in close contact with federal and state agencies conducting investigations into the fatal confrontation.
“My office has been in contact with DOJ and will continue to work with our federal and local officials," Blackburn said. "I am confident the Memphis Police Department and State of Tennessee will conduct a thorough investigation."
Hagerty added that he was also in touch the GOP Gov. Bill Lee's office.
“The criminal justice system must swiftly pursue accountability. I echo Governor Lee in urging a full, independent investigation to determine what happened and how to prevent such misconduct from ever happening again," he said.
2 Shelby County deputies 'relieved of duty' as sheriff launches investigation
Two deputies with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office were relieved of duty pending an administrative investigation in connection to Nichols’ death, Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. announced Friday night after watching the video for the first time.
Bonner said he had “concerns about two deputies who appeared on the scene following the physical confrontation between police and Tyre Nichols.” The investigation will look into their conduct to determine what happened and if any polices were violated, the sheriff said.
In an earlier statement Friday, Bonner said he was “troubled” by what he saw on the video.
“This horrible incident tarnishes the badge that I wear, and many other good officers wear every day. I will do everything in my power to prevent another parent from having to bury their child in such a senseless and tragic way.”
Officer will watch the videos 'at the appropriate time,' attorney says
An attorney for one of the five Memphis police officers who was fired and then charged with murder in the death of Nichols said the videos need to be examined before they can comment.
Blake Ballin, attorney for Desmond Mills Jr., said that “Mr. Mills and I will review these videos together at the appropriate time.”
“A thorough investigation of all available angles is needed before providing context or comment,” Ballin said. “My heart goes out to the Nichols family and the entire city of Memphis and we hope all will express themselves peacefully.”
Mills and four other now-former officers have been charged with second-degree murder and other counts. Nichols, 29, was hospitalized and died three days after the Jan. 7 traffic stop and violent arrest.
Video shows how officers' commands were often contradictory
Body worn camera video released in the violent traffic stop and arrest of Nichols show a chaotic scene where officers are screaming at times contradictory commands.
In the first of four videos released, Nichols is on the ground on his side, while an officer holds one arm, while his second is beneath him and another officer holds that arm against the ground.
As his arms are held and pinned, officers yell to put his hands behind his back or “I’m going to knock your a-- the f--- out!” and to “lay down,” and that he will be Tased. At times they are screaming over each other at the same time, the video shows.
“I am on the ground!” Nichols is heard saying in the video. Another officer yells “on your stomach!” Moments later, an officer sprays him in the face with what appears to be an irritant spray, and he frees himself and runs.
In the third video, officers yell “give me your hands,” as one officer is holding one arm and appears to be pulling him upwards. Nichols’ other hand appears to be palm down on the ground supporting his body.
The officer with that body camera then starts hitting him with a baton, shouting “give us your hands," the video appears to show.
Overhead video from a pole-mounted camera, which does not have audio, appears to show officers holding Nichols as another officer punches him in the head or face area repeatedly, until Nichols — still being held by officers —collapses.
'Everybody adored him,' Nichols' father says of his son
Police make multiple arrests at NYC protest
Police in New York City have made at least three arrests at a protest near Times Square, a police captain told NBC News.
One arrest was for damage to a police car, a second was for punching a police officer, while the third was for an undisclosed reason, according to the official.
Police are also documenting any damage to other vehicles as protesters weave through cars. They also confiscated bikes from protesters who were trying to prevent arrests from being made.
Map: Tracking protests around the country
Almost a dozen protests across the country have erupted in the hours since the Memphis Police Department released body cam footage of the fatal beating of Nichols by Memphis police officers.
Peaceful Memphis protesters close interstate
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of protesters have closed off the Interstate 55 bridge in both directions Friday night after the police body camera footage was released.
The protest was peaceful with demonstrators asking for the police to be held accountable and chanting: “Say his name, Tyre Nichols,” and “No justice, no peace.”
A protester named ST Court said he was pushing to defund the Memphis Police Department and to give officers more training.
“If there was more training, maybe Tyre wouldn’t have died,” Court said.
Others said the only way to bring about change was to make city leaders pay attention.
“I’m just supporting the movement of the people against corruption,” said Brian Iraheta, 29, of Memphis.
A demonstration organizer, Bezal Jupiter, came to Memphis from Atlanta as part of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.
“I’m tired of the oppression that we’ve seen against Black men in the South”, he said. “What we need right now is money in the community. What we need right now is the disbandment of murderous units like Scorpion. What we need right now is comprehensive overhaul of the system of policing in this country.”
The protest took some motorists by surprise. Kayte Ledbetter, 21, said she was nearing the end of a four-hour drive from South Arkansas when encountered hundreds of protesters blocking Interstate 55.
“It was literally out of nowhere. I just stopped my car and saw a bunch of people. I thought they were going to protest really quickly and be gone,” Ledbetter said.
“I’m all for peaceful protests, and this is as peaceful as it gets. People need to use their voice to stick up for situations like this because what happened was absolutely heinous.”
Protester breaks windshield of NYPD squad car
A protester jumped on a police car and broke the windshield at a demonstration in Times Square.
Police swarmed the scene and took the person into custody in handcuffs. The man was bleeding from his wrist.
Around 250 people have gathered to protest after Memphis officials released videos of police beating Tyre Nichols.
Atlanta mayor sickened by 'vile and brutal' attack on Nichols
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens denounced the Memphis police officers he saw on video violently arresting Nichols.
“Once again, we bear witness to a horrific act — a vile and brutal attack of a young unarmed Black man in America by officers who were sworn to serve and protect," the mayor said in a statement. "I know I am not alone in my feelings of sickness and anger in the attack on Mr. Tyre Nichols."
Dickens, though, did praise Memphis officials for quickly firing five officers and seeking charges against the now-former lawmen: " I spoke with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland this week, and I believe he is personally committed to justice in this case and healing in his city."
Outside of Atlanta, protesters have been demonstrating against the construction of an 85-acre, $90 million training facility for police, referred to as "Cop City."
NYC protest grows to more than 200 people
A rally that started in Times Square was close to ending Friday night before demonstrators were joined by another group, more than doubling the number of protesters on the streets of Manhattan.
Chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go” and “Up, up, up with the people. Down, down, down with the police” could be heard as protesters, who were escorted by police on foot and on mopeds, made their way toward Madison Square Garden.
“We are here to say that New York is Memphis, am I right?” Kirby Joseph, a protest organizer, said to cheers as the march continued. “We are here to say we are all Tyre.”
New York City protests erupt after release of Tyre Nichols videoJan. 28, 202302:33
Biden ‘outraged’ after watching ‘horrific’ video of Nichols beating
President Joe Biden on Friday night said he was “outraged and deeply pained” after watching videos of the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police.
In a statement shortly after the videos were released, Biden called the images “horrific.”
“It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day,” he said.
“The footage that was released this evening will leave people justifiably outraged,” Biden added, while urging those who seek justice “not to resort to violence or destruction.”
Martin Luther King Jr. son condemns 'a horrific yet perversely familiar act'
NYC protesters march after Tyre Nichols video released
Around 75 demonstrators marched in New York City, blocking Broadway, in protest after videos were released of Tyre Nichols' violent confrontation with Memphis police.
“Now we’re talking about racial justice now, but every other day of the year, they’re not willing to make any changes to policing,” New York City Council Member Chi Ossé, who represents Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant and North Crown Heights, said.
Nichols, 29, who was Black, was hospitalized and died three days after the Jan. 7 encounter with police in Memphis. Five police officers, who were also Black, were fired and are charged with second-degree murder.
Jamil Parker, 22, said he moved to New York City from Atlanta in hopes of finding a city more hospitable to young Black men, particularly from a policing perspective.
He said it has not lived up to his hopes, particularly with increased police presence in subways and in Black neighborhoods, and Nichols’ death further highlights his concerns.
“We don’t need this much policing. They’re destroying people’s lives,” Parker said.
Cities all over the United States were preparing for possible protests following the release of the videos.
In New York City, Kirby Joseph, a protest organizer, told the crowd: “We are here to say we are all Tyre.”
Footage shows officers holding Nichols up as another punches him
Some of the most graphic footage was captured by an overheard camera directly above three officers. It showed two officers who appear to be holding both of Nichols' arms while another rains blows on his face.
After a prone Nichols had been kicked multiple times in the face or upper body, he was then helped to his feet by two officers, footage showed.
As they held him, another officer could be seen punching Nichols five times in the face, under a Castlegate Lane street sign.
Video was released so the world could 'witness' the family's pain, D.A. says
Shelby County's district attorney said he knows the community and nation "are feeling both outrage and deep pain" following the release of video footage showing the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, but called for peaceful protests Friday night.
“We know the family and community are in mourning," District Attorney Steve Mulroy said in a statement. "And we recognize and understand the right to public protest, but both we and Tyre’s family ask that any demonstrations in response to the video be peaceful."
Mulroy said the footage of the Jan. 7 traffic stop by Memphis officers was made public because it was important to Nichols' family that the world be a "witness and feel their pain." He said the video was released sooner to allow time for witnesses to share their accounts of what happened.
"As we witness the tragic end of Tyre’s life, I also urge you to remember Tyre Nichols as his family does: with his big smile, skateboarding, and being a loving family member," said Mulroy, adding that he hopes this tragedy "can lead to a broader conversation on police reform."
After violent arrest, Memphis officers discuss traffic stop
Memphis police officers involved in the traffic stop of Tyre Nichols are heard in the video claiming that he failed to stop for police.
In one of four videos released by the city of Memphis Friday, an officer says that “we tried to get him stopped, he didn’t stop," according to body camera video.
“He drove around, swerved like he was going to hit my car. So, then I’m like, goddamn, man, what are we doing,” the officer says in one video. “He pulled up at the red light, stopped at the red light, put his turn signal on.”
“So we jump out of the car,” the officer says in the video. “S--- went from there.”
Authorities have not released many details about the traffic stop that preceded Nichols’ death. Police initially said Nichols ran after he was stopped for reckless driving, but the Memphis police chief told MSNBC on Friday that a review of camera footage could not “substantiate” the reckless driving claim.
At an earlier point in the video in which the traffic stop is discussed, an officer said, “He ain’t got nothing in the car?” with a tone of surprise.
Black Memphis residents react to officers also being Black
William Jones recalls that as a teenager in Memphis, Tennessee, Black police officers would break up pickup football games with friends when a white neighbor called to complain, often inflicting physical punishment in the process.
“And a lot of times, it was the Black officers who beat us worse than white officers,” Jones, 48, said.
So, when the images of five Black officers flashed on his television screen as the ones who allegedly beat Black motorist Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop on Jan. 7, Jones did not flinch.
“I was not surprised at all,” Jones, a high-security government worker, told NBC News.
Jones and other Black Memphis residents have shared a range of reactions to seeing five Black faces as the alleged perpetrators of Nichols’ fatal beating with NBC News. Their reactions align with data about the rate at which the police use force against Black people. According to a 2021 report on city data by TV station WREG, Black men were seven times more likely to experience police brutality than their white male peers.
'I didn’t do anything,’ Nichols says after traffic stop, video shows
Nichols told Memphis police officers,“I didn’t do anything” after the Jan. 7 traffic stop that preceded his beating and death, video released by city of Memphis Friday shows.
Body camera video of an officer who appears to arrive at the stop captures aggressive comments, including by the officer — pointing a gun at the car — that “you’re going to get your a-- blown the f--- out.”
“Damn, I didn’t do anything,” Nichols is heard saying as another officer yanks him from the car, while officers are heard shouting obscenities.
Once on the pavement, Nichols says, “All right, I’m on the ground” and “All, right stop” and “OK” as officers scream commands and obscenities at him, the video shows. One officer says, “I’ll break your s---.” Nichols is also threatened with being knocked out.
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols says in the video. “I’m just trying to go home.”
Officers shout at him to lay down, and Nichols, who is on the ground, says “I am.” An officer appears to spray him with pepper spray in the video.
Nichols eventually gets up and runs, the video shows.
#justicefortyrenichols trending on Twitter
Social media lit up on Friday night with hashtags such as #Memphis and #justicefortyrenichols after officials released police videos showing his fatal beating.
While much of the commentary centered on police actions that night, some posted images of Nichols in happier times, such as those showing his love of skateboarding.
Small group of protesters gathers in Washington's Lafayette Square
About two dozen demonstrators — many of them carrying signs for the Party for Socialism and Liberation — were gathered in Lafayette Square with the White House as a backdrop around the time the videos were released.
At 7 p.m. ET, most were listening to a speech from a man using a portable sound system who criticized the police, as well as Republicans and Democrats, for promoting a system that kills Black men.
Other small groups of protesters joined the crowd. Most milled around. Some carried handmade signs, including one that read, “Blue Murders Matter.”
Police hit with their own pepper spray during confrontation
Officers deployed a Taser and pepper spray, much of which ended up on themselves during the melee, footage released by Memphis officials showed.
One officer appeared to be in pain as a colleague poured water on his eyes multiple times.
"I can't see jack s---," the officer said.
Another officer said he was nearly hit with pepper spray and appeared to threaten revenge on Nichols.
"You sprayed me too but luckily it didn't get into my eyes, just on my eye brow," he said. "I hope I stomp his ass."
Body camera video shows punches on ground, Nichols saying 'mom'
Portions of body camera video released in the death of Tyre Nichols shows him being punched several times while he is on the ground.
Four videos were released by the city of Memphis Friday evening showing the Jan. 7 violent encounter following a traffic stop.
In one of the body camera videos, Nichols is on the ground and appeared to be punched several times in the head area by two officers standing over him. Nichols appears to cover his head area. He then yells "Mom." He also appears to be pepper sprayed, part of the video shows.
Nichols was hospitalized and died three days later.
Biden says he told Tyre Nichols' mother he'll push Congress to revisit police reform bill
President Joe Biden on Friday told reporters that when he spoke to the mother of Tyre Nichols he told her would support legislation intended to prevent police abuse.
Biden said he had a 10- to 15-minute phone call with RowVaughn Wells on Friday afternoon ahead of the release of the video of five former officers, since terminated and charged with murder, beating her 29-year-old son on Jan. 7.
"I spoke with Tyre's mother and expressed my condolences and told her I was going to be making a case to the Congress they pass the George Floyd Act," Biden said on the White House South Lawn before boarding Marine One en route to Camp David. "They should get this under control."
In a subsequent White House statement, Biden blamed Senate Republicans for blocking the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which would have restricted officers' qualified immunity from personal accountability in court and limited the use of choke holds and no-knock warrants.
In 2022, after several big cities reported increases in gun violence, and in the wake of alarming incidences of group retail thefts, Biden also sought increased police funding, requesting nearly $38 billion in total for law enforcement and crime prevention.
Biden said Wells has called for peace following the video's distribution, a call he supports. "I'm obviously very concerned about it, but I think she has made a very strong plea," the president said outside the White House.
"I was really pleased that she called for peaceful protests," he said, "no violence."
Memphis police release videos showing fatal beating of Tyre Nichols
Videos released by authorities in Memphis Friday captures police officers beating Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop that ended with his hospitalization and death earlier this month.
The footage shared by the Memphis Police Department shows disturbing and graphic conduct that the city’s top police official has previously called “heinous, reckless and inhumane.”
Lawyers for Nichols’ family, who were given a private viewing earlier this week, have compared the video to the 1991 beating of Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles.
One of the lawyers, Antonio Romanucci, described it as an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating.”
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, has said she only made it through the first minute.
“Any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it,” she said during a news conference Friday before the video’s release.
The videos are available here. Warning: The footage shows graphic violence that could be disturbing.
Memphis police ‘Scorpion unit’ remains inactive, mayor says
The Memphis police Scorpion unit that was involved in the beating that preceded Tyre Nichols’ death remains inactive, Mayor Jim Strickland said Friday.
The mayor said the unit remains inactive in a statement released hours before footage is to be shared showing the police confrontation with Nichols, 29, earlier this month. Five officers were fired and have been charged with second-degree murder.
"I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again. We are initiating an outside, independent review of the training, policies, and operations of our specialized units. Since this event happened, the SCORPION Unit has been and remains inactive," Strickland said in a weekly newsletter.
The unit's name stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods. It was launched in November of 2021.
White House officials talk with mayors about potential protests
The White House homeland security adviser and a senior adviser to President Joe Biden spoke with mayors and officials from at least 16 cities about possible protests Friday, the White House said.
The call was made in advance of the expected public release of video in the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after a violent encounter with Memphis police officers on Jan. 7. The five officers were fired and are charged with murder.
“Participating mayors shared their perspectives on how important it is to recognize the pain felt by communities across this country, be prepared in advance with a game plan to provide adequate community support, and to reinforce the importance of peace and calm during these difficult moments,” the White House said.
White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Senior Advisor to the President Julie Rodriguez briefed the cities about federal preparations, the statement said.
Antonia Hylton: Expect to see ‘delay’ in aid to Nichols in bodycam footage of arrest
Biden speaks with family of Tyre Nichols ahead of bodycam video release
President Joe Biden spoke by phone with the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols on Friday afternoon to express his condolences for the 29-year-old’s death after he was stopped by Memphis police earlier this month.
During his conversation with RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Biden commended the family’s courage and strength, the White House said.
Read the full story here.
Memphis fire officials receive video showing Tyre Nichols' beating, will conclude investigation next week
The Memphis Fire Department said it received full access to video footage showing the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols earlier Friday.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the department said it is "currently reviewing the footage" and "would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and loved ones" of Nichols.
The agency is conducting its own investigation into the Jan. 7 traffic stop by Memphis police. Nichols, 29, died on Jan. 10. Fire department officials said Friday it will conclude its investigation early next week.
Two fire department personnel "involved in the initial patient care" of Nichols were relieved of duty earlier this week. The five Memphis officers involved in the traffic stop were fired and have since been arrested on numerous charges including murder.
New York City protest planned in response to Tyre Nichols' death
A New York City group announced it is organizing a rally on Friday in New York City's Times Square in response to the release of the body camera footage that Memphis police said shows the assault of Tyre Nichols by five police officers.
The New York City branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation said they "are calling on all New Yorkers to hit the streets with us tomorrow" in an Instagram post shared by the group's account on Thursday.
The group said that it demands "an end to racist police terror in Black and Brown communities" and "that all killer cops go to jail."
It is unclear how many people might gather at this protest, but New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the NYPD was prepared to ensure any rallies proceeded peacefully.
Protests planned in numerous cities in response to Nichols' death
An initial NBC News analysis of social media posts has found protests planned in numerous cities across the country in response to the Memphis police's release of the footage of Tyre Nichols' assault that led to his death.
Demanding greater action against police abuse, activists have organized rallies to coincide with the video's release in at least eight cities on Friday, including Memphis, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Portland, Detroit, Boston, Chicago and New York City.
Many announcements included the words "no justice, no peace," which were a rallying cry during the George Floyd protests that swept the country in 2020.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams hurt 'personally and professionally' by Nichols case, said city is ready for protests
As a victim of police violence and also as a former NYPD officer who sought to diversify the police force, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was deeply affected by Tyre Nichols' case on Friday.
While speaking to reporters at a press conference on subway safety with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Adams recounted how he had pushed for a more inclusive police force as an officer.
"To see what is reported, that five African American officers are involved in this, just really hurt me personally," he said, "because it was always my belief that diversifying our departments with different ethnic groups would allow us to have the level of policing that we all deserve."
Adams said he has not seen the video, but he intended to watch it. From the description he has heard, the mayor said it sounded as though the officers had "violated the law."
In anticipation of protests, both Adams and Hochul said they had spoken with police leadership to ensure that any protests could proceed peacefully.
"I will ask everyone to heed the words of Tyre Nichols' mother," Hochul said. "On behalf of her family and his four-year-old child, if you're going to protest, please do so peacefully in her son's memory."
Police chief says so far probe can't 'substantiate' reckless driving claim
Memphis police initially said Tyre Nichols was stopped for reckless driving in the brutal police interaction on Jan. 7, but Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said Friday authorities have not been able to substantiate the reason for the stop.
“We have not been able to substantiate the cause of the stop, the violation. The only thing that we have right now is the officer saying that Mr. Nichols was driving recklessly, initially on the wrong side of the road,” she told NBC News' Tom Llamas Friday morning.
“My staff, I asked them to pull all of the video that they can find in the area … and we were unable to find that and we were unable to get that captured on body worn camera as well from the initial officer,” she explained.
The chief condemned the officers' behavior in the incident, saying they their actions were “not police protocol.”
“I’ve been in business for 36 years and a lot of the aggression and the approach [of the officers] was over the top,” she said.
'This is the blueprint': Crump applauds DA for swiftly charging ex-Memphis officers
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump on Friday applauded the district attorney for swiftly filing charges against the five former Memphis officers accused of beating Tyre Nichols during a Jan. 7 traffic stop.
But Crump, who is representing the family, said justice should be quickly pursued in every case of police brutality.
“We look at how swiftly the district attorney brought charges against them in less than 20 days. Then we want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time any officers, whether they be black or white, will be held accountable," Crump said at a news conference Friday.
He continued: "No longer can you tell us we got to wait six months to a year even though we have a video with evidence of the excessive force and the crime. No more can you tell us that. With these five black officers, you all moved swiftly."
Nichols, 29, died on Jan. 10, three days after the traffic stop.
Lawyers applaud kidnapping charges and say Nichols was 'terrorized'
Attorney Antonio Romanucci said terrorism was part of the kidnapping charges against the five Memphis police officers charged in Tyre Nichols’ death.
“Think about the weight of a kidnapping charge being brought against officers who are wearing a badge, a shield, carrying weapons on their duty belt, acting under the color of law. When has that happened in this country?” he said.
He pointed to the September 11, 2001, attacks and other "heinous acts" that have happened in the U.S. related to terrorism.
"That, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition that we are dealing with here on this kidnapping charge. It is terrorism. It was designed to terrorize the victim. This young man by definition of the law in this state was terrorized, not by one, not by two, but by five officers who we now know that the charges brought actually state that they acted in concert with each other," he said.
"They acted together as that pack of wolves to inflict harm, terrorism, oppression of liberty, oppression of constitutional rights, which led to murder,” Romanucci continued.
Attorney Ben Crump said Nichols’ told the officers, “I just want to home home.”
“It's a traffic stop for God’s sake. A simple traffic stop. He’s kidnapped for a simple traffic stop?" Crump asked.
Nichols' mother: He said he was going to be famous one day
RowVaughn Wells said that she hasn't had time to grieve her son Tyre Nichols' death, but remembered him fondly on Friday.
"My son is looking down smiling," she said. "You know it’s funny, he’s always saying he was going to be famous one day, I didn’t know this is what he meant."
Attorney Ben Crump said Nichols’ last words in the body camera footage of his arrest were three cries for his mother.
"I'm still dealing with the death of my son. This was not supposed to happen. My son was supposed to be with me today," she said. "I’ll always be with him because I told everyone he has a tattoo of my name on his arm."
"My son loved me to death and I loved him to death," Wells continued. "No mother should go through what I'm going through right now. To lose their child to the violent way that I lost my child."
Calls to disband Memphis PD's Scorpion Unit
Attorney Antonio Romanucci called for disbanding the Scorpion Unit, an anti-violence unit within the Memphis Police Department involved in the arrest of Nichols.
He called the squad an “oppression unit” that targets the city’s most vulnerable. This unit had “engaged in this type of brutality before,” attorney Ben Crump said.
Memphis’ Scorpion Unit, which stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace In Our Neighborhoods, was created in October 2021 under the police department’s Organized Crime Unit.
Made up of 40 officers divided into four 10-member teams, the unit was tasked not only with addressing violent crime but also with investigating car thefts and gangs. The officers’ “crime suppression” assignments changed depending on where crime was worst.
This week, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis announced a review of all the police department’s specialized units, including Scorpion, in response to Nichols’ death.
Memphis police chief explains why footage will be released late on Friday
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said that the long-anticipated body camera footage of Tyre Nichols' assault will be released Friday evening on YouTube and on the city's website.
Davis told Tom Llamas in an interview on NBC News NOW that they decided to release the hour-long video late on Friday because they wanted to lessen the potential effect on the community and the school system.
"Friday evening will be a good time to try to get people home, try to have our children safe and have a means of being able to manage any type of response," she said.
The police will be monitoring and managing areas of Memphis as well as have beefed up their contingency staffing, Davis said, as they anticipate it is likely that people will protest after the video is released.
"We don’t want to overreact. But the reality is, is that there are individuals that may want to exercise their First Amendment right and come out and protest," the police chief added.
Family wants Nichols' death to lead to reform and a new law
Tyre Nichols' parents want the charges against the five Memphis police officers to lead to reform by way of a new law, the family's attorney, Ben Crump, said Friday.
Crump called for the creation of “Tyre’s Law” that will call upon law enforcement “to intervene when they see crimes being committed, even if those crimes are being committed by their fellow officers.”
“That would be the appropriate legacy that we give Tyre Nichols,” he said.
Nichols' stepfather calls for peaceful protests
Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, said his family is “very satisfied” with the charges and with authorities for acting “very, very quickly” in the case.
He urged for residents across the nation outraged over the display of police brutality to protest peacefully.
“We want peace. We do not want any type of uproar. We don’t want any type of disturbance. We want peaceful protests,” he said.
Law enforcement agencies around the country are bracing for demonstrations as the police bodycam video of Nichols' Jan. 7 violent arrest is set to be released after 7 p.m. ET.
Don't let your children see the Nichols video, his mother says
RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols, said Friday she hasn't seen all the footage of her son's arrest, but "what I’ve heard is very horrific."
"Any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it," she said during a news conference a day after five former Memphis police officers were charged with murder in her son's death.
She directed a message to the officers, saying: "You also disgraced your own families. But you know what, I'm going to pray for you and your families because at the end of the day, this shouldn’t have happened."
‘Hope that those officers get what they deserve,’ says man who accused ex-officer of 2015 jailhouse assault
One of the five former Memphis police officers accused in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols took part in beating an inmate nearly eight years ago, according to the man who made the accusation in a 2016 lawsuit.
Cordarlrius Sledge was serving a three-year sentence for aggravated assault in 2015 when two corrections officers beat him because he had a contraband cellphone, he said in an exclusive interview Wednesday from his Memphis halfway house.
Sledge, 34, said in the interview and in his suit — which was dismissed before its merits were evaluated — that Haley was one of two officers, under the supervision of a third, who came into his cellblock on May 16, 2015, to search him.
“When they came in to do one of their little random pop-in search, they called me and two other guys to the shower area to be strip-searched,” Sledge said. “They requested for me to be searched first.”
Sledge said he ran past the officers in his underwear in an attempt to get rid of the cellphone. He did not assault Haley or the other officers, nor did he knock into them as he ran, he said.
“That’s when they started punching on me,” he said. “They picked me up and slammed my head into the sink, and I blacked out.”