This case has not yet been tried, so we can’t yet say that the five police officers indicted for second-degree murder of Tyre Nichols, 29, were guilty. But if you look at the video linked to the NYT article below, it sure looks as if they were whaling on him without any valid cause. In the video (click screenshot below), Nichols was stopped for reckless driving, forced to the ground by the cops, and then cried that he didn’t do anything and just wanted to go home. That was enough to make the cops pepper-spray him in the face repeatedly.
Nichols manages to get up and start running toward home, at which point they taze him, which doesn’t seem to be improper procedure.
He’s chased, taken down again, and then gets hit and repeatedly pepper-sprayed as he calls “Mom!” (This is heartbreaking.) Then he’s beaten with a baton, punched and kicked—all without appearing to offer any resistance. Even when he’s forced to stand up by the cops, and probably unconscious, they still keep beating him. Nichols is then dragged to the car and the cops stand around, not doing anything to assist Nichols until an ambulance arrives.
Nichols died three days later in the hospital. The autopsy said he died from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.” That’s no surprise given the video.
If you want to watch, and do so only if you can tolerate extreme brutality, I recommend the NYT video (be sure to turn the sound on), as it shows the entire event from Nichols being forced out of the car to being beaten and kicked until the ambulance arrives, but I’ve put the NBC News report on the event, which shows the apparent police brutality, at the bottom.
The video was released last night, and there have been demonstrations, but they were peaceful, as Nichols’s family requested.
To me it sure looks like manslaughter, and there is no obvious reason save police anger and desire for revenge that warrants such brutal treatment. Nichols put up no resistance except, before the beaten, when he broke free and tried to run home. How a police officer can beat, kick, and pepper-spray someone who gave up and is calling for his mom is beyond belief—and it’s the police, not a personal altercation.
The indictment seems to be n the mark, and it’s a good thing there was a “skycam” nearby and the bodycams were turned on. Who knows what the cops might have made up had this not been the case? My heart goes out to Nichols’s family—especially his mom, for whom he called as he was beaten within an inch of his life. They had to watch their son’s slaughter before the video was release to the public yesteeray.
The NYT article below has more details, but you can read them for yourself. It’s unspeakably sad.
Here are details from the NYT if you can’t bear to watch:
Mr. Nichols was stopped on the evening of Jan. 7 in the southeastern corner of the city. Officers forced him out of his car and wrestled him to the ground, according to the videos. He dropped to the ground and laid on his side, imploring the officers to stop and saying, “I’m just trying to get home,” as they held down different parts of his body.
Though he appeared to show no resistance, the police threatened to hurt him further and continued to order him to get on the ground, apparently wanting him to roll onto his stomach. About two minutes into the encounter, an officer directed pepper spray at his face. At that point, Mr. Nichols got up from the ground and ran from the officers, one of whom fired a stun gun at him.
About eight minutes later, officers caught up with him again in a residential area near his family’s home. After tackling him, they beat him severely, as Mr. Nichols screamed in agony.
A body-worn camera and a surveillance camera captured police officers continuing their assault on Mr. Nichols, with one kicking him so hard in the face that the officer nearly fell down. Throughout the beating, which lasted about three minutes, Mr. Nichols did not appear to ever strike back. Several times, he moved his hands to cover his face, seeming to cower from the officers’ blows.
An independent autopsy commissioned by his family found that Mr. Nichols “suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating,” according to preliminary findings released this week.
The video below (it’s here as well) shows the bit where Nichols is assaulted, and it’s narrated by the NBC broadcasters and analyzed after a few minutes of video. Click on the “Watch on YouTube” line.