Tyre Nichols’ interaction with five Memphis police officers was “appalling,” “deplorable,” “heinous,” “violent” and “troublesome on every level,” Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family, said after viewing the bodycam video on Monday.
The body-camera footage was viewed by Nichols’ family, along with attorneys Crump and Antonio Romanucci, on Monday morning, thanks to the Memphis Police Department and Memphis City administration.
The video of the arrest has not been made public.
“What he was in that was defenseless the entire time,” Romanucci said. “He was a human piñata for those police officers. It was unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating of this young boy for three minutes.” Romanucci also mentioned that Nichols, who died January 10, was kicked during the footage.
According to Nichols’ mother, Rowvaughn Wells, he was pulled over two minutes away from his home and apprehended by officers less than 80 yards away.
According to Crump and Romanucci, the video shows that Nichols did not initially flee when approached by officers, but instead told them that “he was just trying to get home” from FedEx, where he worked, and yelled three times for his mother near the end of the video.
“Our son ran because he was scared for his life,” Rodney Wells, Nichols’ stepfather, said. “He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no gun, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.”
Rowvaughn Wells spoke at the press conference through tears, recalling how good of a boy her son was and demanding justice for his death.
“We’re going to get justice for my son Tyre if that’s the last breath I take,” she said.
Nichols died on January 10, three days after being arrested for alleged reckless driving. He was admitted to the hospital in critical condition after complaining of shortness of breath during his arrest.
According to his family, the Memphis man had Crohn’s disease and suffered from severe weight loss. Nichols’s arrival at the hospital was upsetting for his parents.
“When I walked into that hospital room, my son was already dead,” Rowvaughn Wells said.
The Memphis Police Department announced on Friday that it had fired the five officers involved in the incident, all of whom were Black, bringing the department’s internal investigation to a close.
Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were identified as the officers.
According to the family’s attorneys, the officers were in patrol cars during the stop, though some of the vehicles were unmarked.
According to an official statement issued by the Shelby County District Attorney’s office on Monday, the video footage is expected to be released this week or next week.
“Transparency is a priority for the DA’s Office, and we understand the public’s desire for immediate release. However, it’s important that the release does not compromise the investigation,” the statement said.
The FBI and the Justice Department, in collaboration with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, are continuing their joint investigation into Tyre Nichols’ death.
Crump and Romanucci have stated that they will conduct their own civil investigation.
The death of Nichols has sparked outrage in the Memphis community, with residents demanding that the body-camera footage be made public.