Video of Tyre Nichols’ murder released


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

A wave of sadness, anger, and frustration plagues Memphis following the release of graphic footage depicting the murder of Tyre Nichols, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of local law enforcement on January 10. 

On his return home from photographing the sunset on January 7, police pulled over the 29 year-old father on suspicions of reckless driving around 8:30 pm. According to the initial police report, the routine traffic stop led to Nichols instigating a physical confrontation, taking off on foot, and then a second confrontation in which Nichols reached for the officer’s weapon. However, the information offered by officers in the report was contradicted by traffic and body camera footage.

On Friday, January 27, the Memphis Police Department released four separate, and extremely graphic, videos spanning around an hour long. The footage begins with officers running towards Nichols with their guns drawn. While Nichols is surrending on the ground and pleading to go home, officers attempt to tase and pepper spray him, after which he begins to flee. Mr. Salyers, a history teacher at Chagrin spoke to his 21st Century History class about the event. 

“It makes sense that [Nichols] would run,” said Mr. Salyers. 

However, officers caught up with him when he was around 100 yards away from his home, and for three straight minutes, Nichols was beaten, pepper sprayed, batoned, kicked in the head, and punched repeatedly. The officers can be heard trying to justify their brutal actions by claiming Nichols was fighting back and trying to take their guns, but there was never any video evidence of resistance on Nichols’ part. In fact, he was crying for his mother throughout the duration of the senseless beating.

Police propped Nichols up against the car in which he slumped over. By this time, over ten people were at the scene, including some medical personnel, but nobody aided Tyre until 25 minutes later when the ambulance arrived. 

“As someone who is planning to have a medical career, it is absolutely appalling that people just stood by and watched this man slip in and out of consciousness,” said junior Riley McClintock. 

The medics at the scene have all been relieved from duty pending an investigation. Nichols’ family, their attorneys, and community members are all calling on prosecutors to charge the medics in relation to Nichols’ death. 

In addition to the release of the medics, the five officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Desmond Mills Jr, have been charged with second degree murder and other crimes. These officers were a part of the Memphis Police Department’s Scorpion Unit, which was originally created when murder rates were skyrocketing in the city. However, immediately after charges were filed, Police Chief Cerelyn Davis disbanded the unit. 

According to CNN, Attorney Ben Crump, who also led the George Floyd case, believed that Memphis’ handling of the case should be recognized and followed. “When you see officers committing crimes on video, then you can’t tell us that you gotta go six months, you gotta go a year,” Crump told CNN. “Here in Memphis, we might have the blueprint that it can be done swiftly and efficiently.”