“We are going to see acts that defy humanity, a disregard for life, duty of care and a level of physical interaction that is above and beyond what is required in law enforcement.”
Those ominous words were how Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis characterized the footage that, at the time, was yet to be released to the public.
Now, the body cam video from the vicious beating of Memphis motorist Tyre Nichols has been uploaded to YouTube, and it is indeed not for the faint of heart.
(WARNING: The video below contains extremely graphic violence.)
Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx worker and father, was stopped by police on January 7 allegedly for reckless driving, a charge that Davis said was unfounded to begin with. From there, she said the “amped up” officers were “very aggressive” from the moment they engaged Nichols and then “escalated from there.”
Eventually, Nichols fled on foot, and five officers chased him down and savagely beat him. He died three days after the incident on January 10 while hospitalized.
Davis said to CNN that the footage of that beating has her “outraged” and called the officers’ actions “incomprehensible.”
“I’m sure that individuals watching will feel what the family felt. And if you don't, then you're not a human being,” she said, adding, “I would say it is about the same if not worse than the 1991 beating of Rodney King. A group think mentality.”
All five now-former officers involved – Tardarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith – were arrested and indicted on six charges including aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, official oppression and second-degree murder.
The combined bail for all five was $1 million. So far, Bean, Martin, Mills and Smith have been released on bond, according to Shelby County court records. Haley remains imprisoned on a bond of $350,000.
Nichols’s mother RowVaughn Wells spoke at a candlelight vigil for her son the night before the video’s release and urged any protesters who took to the streets in her son’s name to remain peaceful.
“When that tape comes out… it’s going to be horrific,” she said. “But I want each and every one of you to protest in peace. If you guys are here for me and Tyre, then you will protest peacefully.”
The sentiment was echoed by Nichols’s stepfather Rodney Wells.
“We want peace,” Wells said at a press conference. “We do not want any type of uproar any type of disturbance. That’s what [the] family wants that’s what [the] community wants. Please, please, protest, but protest safely.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Nichols family with the costs of Tyre Nichols’s medical care and funeral arrangements.