Adrian Sainz/AP Photo
- Authorities released footage Friday evening showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols on January 7.
- The five officers involved in the beating have since been fired and charged with murder.
- Memphis and other major US cities braced for protests and widespread outrage on Friday.
Content note: This story describes police brutality, death, and contains graphic videos.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The Memphis Police Department released footage Friday evening showing the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, with Memphis and other major US cities bracing for protests and civil unrest.
The footage, from police body cameras and stationary cameras, was released on the department’s Vimeo page.
“You guys are really doing a lot right now,” Nichols is heard saying to the officers at the start of the video. “I’m just trying to go home.”
The beating occurred during a traffic stop in Memphis’ Hickory Hill neighborhood on January 7. Nichols, who was 29, died of his injuries three days later. Authorities said Nichols had been stopped by the officers and accused of reckless driving, but Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis has since said the department has not found proof to substantiate the reckless driving allegation.
Memphis officials and others with access to the video had warned the public of the gruesome nature of the footage in advance of its release on Friday.
The director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation called the video “absolutely appalling.” Davis, the Memphis police chief, said what he saw “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.” And an attorney representing Nichols’ family said the officers beat Nichols like “a human piñata.”
Nichols’ family pleaded for peaceful protests at a press conference earlier on Friday.
The five police officers seen in the footage were fired from the Memphis Police Department and later charged with second-degree murder. Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith also face charges of kidnapping, official misconduct, and oppression.
All five officers were booked into the Shelby County jail on Thursday and have since been released on bond.
Prior to the video release, protesters were already gathering at Martyr Park in the city’s downtown. They said they weren’t waiting for the videos to reveal what happened because they already knew enough.
On social media, some chose to counteract the expected brutality of the footage with images they said were from Nichols’ life. One poster wrote that before the body cam video “inevitably goes viral, I want to amplify THIS video of Tyre LIVING his best life” accompanied by a clip of man on on his skateboard.
This breaking news story will be updated.