What the video footage reveals and the questions that remain
Nearly three weeks after Tire Nichols was violently arrested in Memphis, Tennessee, city officials released disturbing footage of his deadly confrontation with police.
The graphic footage of Memphis police beating the 29-year-old after a traffic stop was released Friday “because it was important to Tire’s community and family, because they want the world to witness and feel their pain.” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said in a statement.
The release of the videos sheds more light on what happened to Nichols on the night of January 7, three days before his death. Although it also raises more questions about the incident, which has led to national outrage.
What the pictures show
Three body-worn camera videos were shared on Vimeo by the City of Memphis on Friday with the following disclaimer: “Images contain graphic content and language. Some may be offended. Viewer discretion is advised.” A fourth video — silent surveillance footage of a city pole camera – was also released, about 67 minutes in total.
The approximately 11-minute clip is body camera video showing Nichols’ initial altercation with police during a traffic stop. As he got out of his car and was thrown to the ground, Nichols can be heard saying “I didn’t do anything” and telling officers at least twice that he was “just trying to get home”.
During the altercation, an officer warns Nichols, “I’m going to give you a…” and “I’m going to taser you,” as several officers stop and yell at him. Nichols’ tone remains calm, and at one point tells the police, “You’re really doing a lot right now.” He manages to free himself from the officers who seem to be trying to deploy a stun gun on him and he flees.
The cop who this body camera video was taken of chases him down the road and then returns to the scene of the initial altercation. Finally, he hears on the radio that other officers found Nichols nearby and he says twice, “I hope they give him a….”
The approximately 31-minute clip is a wide-angle aerial shot taken with a city surveillance camera that provides a panoramic view of the disturbing footage.
Several officers can be seen grouped with Nichols, standing over him as he lies on the ground. While two officers hold him, a third kicks him. A fourth officer arrives with a baton and the officers lift Nichols off the ground and hold him upright as officers appear to punch him in the face and chest.
As Nichols falls to his knees, several officers kneel and lean over him, while another appears to be watching a few feet away. Additional agents appear. At least one officer kicks Nichols while he’s on the ground. About three minutes after the first kick, they begin to walk away. They end up dragging him across the street and leaning him against a car when it looks like he has his hands behind his back.
Nichols remains slumped next to the car for about 20 minutes, it turns out, before officers made their first attempt to rescue him. Several minutes later, paramedics appear to lean on Nichols before an ambulance appears.
The approximately 6 minute clip is a body camera video showing the officers beating Nichols, taken from the perspective of the officer beating Nichols with a baton in the second clip.
Footage shows officers beating Nichols and spraying pepper spray as he begins to scream for his mother, who lived nearby. You hear him call out “Mom” at least three times. The officers repeatedly yell at Nichols to “give me your hands”. The officer with the baton is heard to say, “I’m going to club you”, and then appears to hit him three times in the back. Officers pull Nichols into a booth and then appear to beat and beat him.
The roughly 19-minute clip is another body camera video of the beating scene, though less than two minutes after the camera is somehow affected and nothing is visible. . Audio is heard, including Nichols yelling “Mom”. The video reappears minutes later, showing Nichols slumped on the ground next to a vehicle. Later in the video, as officers are on the scene to replay the sequence of events, they claim that Nichols hit at least two officer’s guns.
The footage helped answer questions about what happened that night, especially for Nichols’ family. His mother, RowVaughn Wells, said police initially told her that her son had been startled and sprayed with pepper spray, though the severity of his injuries at the hospital indicated something more violent was on the way. had been produced. For her stepfather, Rodney Wells, the video “justifies” that Nichols was not a threat to the officers.
Although the images also raise questions about the incident, including:
What led to Nichols’ arrest?
It is unclear what caused the traffic jam and why the officers reacted so aggressively. The first video is from the perspective of an officer arriving at the scene as Nichols got out of his car while stopped at a red light.
In the fourth video, while officers were narrating the traffic stop, one alleged Nichols almost drove into oncoming traffic, while another claimed Nichols swerved and drove off. almost hit his car when he tried to stop him.
Police said he was arrested for reckless driving, though Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis said she couldn’t prove it.
“I believe the closure itself was highly questionable,” Davis told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview Friday in “Good Morning America.” “We were unable to verify the charge of reckless driving.”
Tennessee State Representative GA Hardaway said questions about the timing and logistics of the case were not being answered and called for clarification of the chain of command regarding the reporting of car chases and violent encounters.
“There’s more to the story and I think the people of Memphis and Shelby County deserve to know the full story,” he said at a Saturday news conference.
Will other charges be filed?
Five officers were fired and charged with manslaughter in connection with the confrontation, although footage shows several officers at the scene who have not been identified.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing the family, told ABC News the video raises more questions about those involved, including the unidentified officer at the first traffic stop whose body CCTV footage was released, and whether they will face any repercussions.
Two Shelby County deputies who were at the scene of the police clash were relieved of their duties pending an investigation shortly after the video came out, the county sheriff said Friday. . The sheriff said he had launched an investigation into their conduct “to determine what happened and whether any policy violations occurred,” although no further information was provided.
The local prosecutor said other charges in the case are possible.
Why did the emergency room take so long?
It appears that about 20 minutes elapsed between the end of the beating and the first attempts by officers to rescue Nichols as he sat and lay on the floor. The paramedics are only visible in the video more than 22 minutes after the end of the assault.
Nichols was hospitalized in critical condition after complaining of shortness of breath during the arrest, police said.
The Memphis Fire Department said two employees involved in providing first aid to Nichols’ patients were fired last week as the department investigates his death. The fire service said on Friday it was reviewing the footage and expected to complete its investigation early next week.
What were the roles of the charged officers?
A lawyer for Desmond Mills Jr., one of the former officers charged in the case, also said the videos “raised as many questions as answers” for his client, who he said was not the first on the scene.
“Some of the questions that remain require us to focus on Desmond Mills’ individual actions; what Desmond knew and what he could see when he arrived late; what Desmond knew and what ‘he could see after being sprayed with pepper spray; and whether Desmond’s actions exceeded limits set by other officers in this incident,” attorney Blake Ballin said in a statement. .
Ballin added that they are “confident” that answers to the question of whether Mills “crossed the lines that others have crossed and whether he committed the crimes charged will be met with a resounding no.”
ABC News’ Whitney Lloyd, Sasha Pezenik and Laura Romero contributed to this report.
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